FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday,February 17, 2012
For Information Contact:
Man Indicted on Conspiracy, Bank Fraud and Other Charges
For His Role in Internet-Based Fraud Scheme
- Scam Involved More Than $1 Million in Losses -
WASHINGTON - Istvan Laszlo Csurgo, 30, of Budapest, Hungary, was indicted by a federal grand jury today on conspiracy, bank fraud and other charges stemming from an Internet-based fraud scheme that obtained more than $1 million from victims.
The indictment, returned in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, was announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office and John W. Schilling, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.
Csurgo was arrested at the Charlotte International Airport on February 10, 2012 and remains in custody following his attempted return to the United States. He was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and false use of a passport. The indictment includes a forfeiture allegation calling for Csurgo to forfeit proceeds from the crimes. If convicted of all charges, the defendant faces a statutory maximum of 70 years in prison.
According to the indictment, Csurgo and others conspired to carry out the scheme from on or about June 1, 2011 through on or about September 1, 2011. Csurgo and his co-conspirators are accused of operating an international Internet-based fraud scheme that falsely advertised and purported to sell motor vehicles and boats on websites.
The indictment alleges that Csurgo and others used false passports and false driver’s licenses to open about 26 bank accounts at financial institutions, and induced buyers to wire money and funds into the accounts for the intended purpose of purchasing the vehicles and boats. Csurgo and others then fraudulently withdrew funds from those accounts before the buyers, financial institutions, and law enforcement detected the fraudulent scheme. By then, the co-conspirators had obtained more than $1 million from buyers who had wired funds to various financial institutions.
In one example cited in the indictment, Csurgo is accused of fraudulently opening an account at a branch of TD Bank, N.A. in the District of Columbia in the name of “Vehicles Int Brokers, LLC.” In July and August of 2011, this account received three wire payments, totaling $78,000, from people in Florida, Delaware and New Jersey who intended to buy boats. During that same time period, Csurgo made about the same amount in withdrawals from TD branches in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, the indictment alleges.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael K. Atkinson and Diane Lucas of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, with assistance from Legal Assistant Jared Forney.