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Eastern Europeans sought in online marketplace fraud scheme

Eastern Europeans sought in online marketplace fraud scheme

The group is accused of defrauding Americans seeking to buy boats, vehicles and motorcycles

Six Eastern European men are being sought by U.S. prosecutors for allegedly netting up to US$3 million by placing fraudulent advertisements for vehicles, motorcycles and boats on major online marketplaces, including eBay.

Ringleader Nicolae Popescu is accused of leading a group that placed advertisements for goods costing between $10,000 to $45,000, collecting the money from victims and never delivering the goods, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release on Thursday.

Interpol has issued notices seeking Popescu's arrest, along with fellow Romanians Daniel Alexe, Dmitru Daniel Bosogioiu, Ovidiu Cristea, and Dragomir Razvan and an Albanian man, Fabjan Meme. They're charged in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Six co-defendants were arrested in December 2012, the DOJ said.

The group, which also placed ads on Cars.com, AutoTrader.com, and CycleTrader.com, is accused of creating fake vehicle dealership websites. Victims received email invoices that appeared to be identical to those of legitimate payment services, such as Amazon Payments and PayPal, the DOJ said.

High-quality fake passports were used to open U.S. bank accounts to collect the funds, which were then sent by wire transfer to Europe, the DOJ said.

In a recorded conversation in October 2011, Bosogioiu asked Popescu about the differences between state and federal law and vowed to avoid the FBI. Popescu said in July 2011 that criminals would never be extradited from Romania to the U.S., according to the DOJ.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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