FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 5, 2012
For Information Contact:
Hungarian Man Sentenced to 26 Months in Prison
For His Role in International Internet-Based Fraud Scheme
- Defendant Was Part of a Ring That Tricked People
Who Thought They Were Buying Cars, Trucks and Boats -
WASHINGTON - Istvan Laszlo Csurgo, 30, of Budapest, Hungary, was sentenced today to 26 months in prison on federal charges stemming from his participation in an international Internet-based fraud scheme that obtained more than $1 million from people who thought they were buying cars, trucks and boats.
The sentencing, 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, Niall Meehan, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, and David Beach, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the U.S. Secret Service.
Csurgo was arrested at the Charlotte, N.C. International Airport on Feb. 10, 2012 and has been in custody ever since. He pled guilty in May 2012 to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of use of a false passport. He was sentenced today by the Honorable Richard W. Roberts. The judge also ordered that Csurgo pay more than $1.1 million in restitution and ordered him to forfeit $698,953, representing proceeds he obtained through the scheme. Upon completion of his prison term, Csurgo will be placed on five years of supervised release.
In sentencing the defendant, Judge Roberts took into consideration the assistance that Csurgo has provided to the government in the ongoing investigation into the criminal activities.
According to a statement of offense signed by the defendant, Csurgo and others conspired to carry out the scheme from on or about June 1, 2011 through on or about Aug. 31, 2011. Csurgo and his co-conspirators falsely advertised and purported to sell motor vehicles and boats on websites, targeting buyers located mainly in the United States.
With assistance from his co-conspirators, Csurgo used false passports and false driver’s licenses to open about 45 bank accounts at financial institutions in the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. During the course of the scheme, Csurgo came to understand that buyers were being induced to wire money and funds into these accounts for the intended purpose of purchasing the vehicles and boats. He and others fraudulently withdrew funds from the accounts before the buyers, financial institutions, and law enforcement detected the scheme.
Csurgo admitted that he obtained and attempted to obtain approximately $756,511 from various financial institutions during the scheme. As charged in the original indictment, the co-conspirators allegedly received, collectively, over $1 million from the scheme.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin, Special Agent in Charge Meehan, and Special Agent in Charge Beach praised those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and the U.S. Secret Service’s Washington Field Office. They also commended the efforts of Paralegal Specialists Lenisse Edloe, Tasha Harris, and C. Rosalind Pressley of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Finally, they acknowledged the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael K. Atkinson and Diane Lucas, who prosecuted the case.12-349