FBI hunts £1.8m eBay car fraudster

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the USA has issued a wanted poster for Nicolae Popescu, a Romanian man they suspect of leading a “sophisticated internet fraud scheme where criminal conspirators, posted advertisements on internet auction sites for merchandise for sale”.

The scam – predominantly carried out using eBay Motors – convinced would-be buyers to part with money for cars that didn’t exist.

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The conspirators posed as eBay sellers and then sent fraudulent invoices, that appeared to be from legitimate online payment services, with instructions for payment to bank accounts held in the United States.

When the victims wired the payment to the account identified on the invoices, the conspirator associated with that account would then withdraw them and wire the funds to another conspirator based on email instructions.

The elaborate fraud is alleged to have netted $3 million (£1.8 million) for the scammers. The so-called ‘masters of illusion’ thought they were above the law, with Popescu boasting that he was “beyond the reach” of US authorities.

US Attorney, Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York:

“They thought their distance would insulate them from law enforcement scrutiny. They were wrong.

“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.”

Nicolae Popescu is charged with multiple crimes, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, passport fraud and trafficking in counterfeit service marks.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Popescu or any of his associates are urged to get in touch with the FBI.

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