FBI On Hunt For ‘Fugitive Multimillion eBay Fraudsters’

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Crooks said to have put up fake ads for cars, boats and motorbikes across the web

Law enforcement agencies across the world have been told to seek and apprehend eBay fraudsters who are on the run after allegedly acquiring millions of dollars from their illicit craft.

A wanted poster was put out by the FBI last week for Nicolae Popescu, who is believed to be the leader of the gang, which was said to have duped users of eBay, Cars.com and Autotrader.com amongst others.

FBI wantedeBay fraud

According to the indictment, they put up fake, detailed ads for high-value items, such as cars and boats, that did not exist, whilst pretending to sell from fictional auto dealerships. They created convincing invoices purporting to be from well-known payments providers, including PayPal and Amazon.

This brought in over $3 million (£1.85 million) for the defendants, according to the FBI.

Romanian nationals Daniel Alexe, Dmitru Daniel Bosogioiu, Ovidiu Cristea and Dragomir Razvan were also charged, alongside a defendant using the monikers ‘George Skyper and ‘Tudor Barbu Lautaru’. Albanian national Fabjan Meme was also named in the indictment. Six co-defendants were arrested back in December.

Popescu appeared to be somewhat brazen about avoiding arrest. In July 2011, police claimed to have recovered a recorded conversation in which he said “criminals will not be extradited from Romania to U.S.A. … [I]t will never happen.”

“They thought their distance would insulate them from law enforcement scrutiny.  They were wrong,” said US Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York.

“By now, Popescu and his band of fugitives have seen their co-conspirators brought here to account for their crimes.  Today’s actions place them squarely in the sights of our partners in international law enforcement. We will not stop in our efforts to find these fugitives and bring them to justice for the crimes they have allegedly committed against our citizens.”

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