WASHINGTON – A Bulgarian national pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia for his role in laundering money for a transnational criminal group based in Eastern Europe, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division. Additionally, a Romanian national who is charged in the same scheme surrendered and appeared today in federal court in the District of Columbia. According to court documents, in less than one year, the criminal conspiracy netted more than $1.4 million from U.S. victims.
Georgi Vasilev Pletnyov, 50, a resident of Bulgaria, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Pletynov was extradited from Poland to the United States in May 2010. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison at sentencing, scheduled for Aug. 22, 2011. Roman Teodor appeared before Judge Friedman and was arraigned on the same charges as his co-defendant Pletnyov. Teodor was ordered detained.
According to court documents, Pletnyov and Teodor participated in a scheme that operated from July 2005 through November 2006, and involved the posting of fraudulent advertisements on eBay and other websites offering expensive vehicles and boats for sale that the conspirators did not possess. When the U.S. victims expressed interest in the merchandise, they were contacted directly by an e-mail from a purported seller. According to court documents, the victims were then instructed to wire transfer payments through “eBay Secure Traders” — an entity which has no actual affiliation to eBay but was used as a ruse to persuade the victims that they were sending money into a secure escrow account pending delivery and inspection of their purchases. Instead, the victims’ funds were wired directly into bank accounts in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland that were controlled by co-conspirators.
Pletnyov and Teodor were originally charged on Jan. 9, 2008, along with four additional defendants: Ivaylo Vasilev Pletnyov, Nikolay Georgiev Minchev, Georgi Boychev Georgiev and Antoaneta Angelova Getova. On Dec. 2, 2009, Ivaylo Vasilev Pletnyov and Nikolay Georgiev Minchev were sentenced to 48 months and 30 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in the money laundering conspiracy. On Oct. 8, 2010, Georgi Boychev Georgiev was sentenced to 15 months in prison for his role in this scheme. The United States continues to work with foreign counterparts in Bulgaria regarding Antoaneta Angelova Getova. An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.
This investigation was conducted by the FBI – Hungarian National Bureau of Investigation (HNBI) Organized Crime Task Force located in Budapest, Hungary (Budapest Task Force). The Budapest Task Force was established by the FBI in April 2000 to address the increasing threat of Eurasian organized crime groups to the United States.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Lisa Page of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance on this case.