West Palm Beach Man Sentenced To More Than 3 Years In Prison FOr Mail Fraud Scheme
November 22, 2013
Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven sentenced Szilard Pop (33, West Palm Beach) yesterday to 41 months in federal prison for mail fraud. As part of his sentence, the court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $703,693.00, the proceeds of the charged criminal conduct.
Pop pleaded guilty on September 5, 2013.
According to court documents, beginning in June 2012, law enforcement in multiple states began receiving reports from victims of an Internet scam relating to the sale of automobiles and vehicles on websites frequently used by American and Canadian citizens. Victims responded to Internet advertisements and communicated with Pop, or one of his co-conspirators, via telephone and email to agree upon a price. Pop or a co-conspirator would then direct the victim to complete the transaction using an online escrow service that would purportedly hold the victim's money until the victim received and accepted the vehicle. The victim would request a wire transfer from his or her bank to the bank account provided by the escrow service and then responded to Pop or one of his co-conspirators that the wire transfer had been completed. Once Pop was notified of the completed wire transfer, he would then go to the receiving bank and use counterfeit identification to wire a portion of the victim’s funds to bank accounts in Europe. Pop would then withdraw the majority of the funds remaining in the account and the victim would never receive the vehicle purchased and lost all of the money put towards the vehicle.
Pop registered two fraudulent corporations: Global Auto Center and United Group Center, both in Florida, and both using assumed names. He would then open accounts at multiple banks in the names of these entities, also using his false identities. Further, he applied for and received mail boxes at locations such as UPS stores, again using false identities.
Based on complaints from victims, in June 2012, law enforcement officials located two fraudulent corporations connected to Pop - Global Auto Center, LLC and United Group Center, LLC. To further the scheme, Pop used false identities to establish mail locations and bank accounts for these entities. The investigation determined that Pop defrauded in excess of 15 victims and received over $700,000 in fraudulent proceeds as part of his scheme.
This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service. It was being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sara C. Sweeney.