Defendant Sentenced To 60 Months In Prison For Defrauding At Least 80 People In Internet Fraud Scheme
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that RAZVAN MARCU was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 60 months in prison for his role in an Internet fraud scheme in which at least 80 victims were defrauded of more than $1 million. MARCU pled guilty in July 2012 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and his sentencing, which began on Monday, December 17, 2012, was concluded today by U.S. District Judge Robert P. Patterson.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Razvan Marcu was a U.S.-based facilitator of an international Internet fraud scheme that duped victims into shelling out cash for big-ticket items that were nothing more than pictures on a webpage. We are committed to prosecuting cybercrime in all its forms and dimensions.”
According to the charge in the Indictment to which MARCU pled guilty, statements made at his guilty plea and other court proceedings, and court documents:
From at least 2009 through about 2011, MARCU and his international co-conspirators engaged in a scheme to defraud individuals seeking to buy items, including cars, which were listed for sale on various internet websites, including eBay.com, Autotrader.com, and Craigslist.com. As part of the scheme, MARCU recruited Timothy Harron, and instructed him to recruit individuals to open bank accounts into which money from victims could be sent, or to agree to receive money sent by victims through money transmission services, such as Western Union and MoneyGram. Once a victim contacted the purported seller over the Internet and the parties agreed to the terms of sale, the victim received an e-mail message that appeared to be from the website on which the item was listed, or some other legitimate website designed for online transactions. The e-mail asked the buyer to wire money to one of the people Harron had recruited to participate in the scheme or to one of the bank accounts that was opened to facilitate the scheme. The victims never received the items for which they paid.
After victims wired money, Harron—also at MARCU’s direction—arranged for the money to be withdrawn in cash and then deposited into accounts of, or transmitted to, co-conspirators, including those located in Romania, where leaders of the scheme were also based. Some of the victims’ money was also deposited into MARCU’s bank accounts. He used the money to purchase and lease numerous luxury automobiles, and for other personal expenses.
Over the course of the scheme, MARCU, Harron, and their co-conspirators defrauded more than 80 victims of more than $1 million.
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In addition to the prison term, Judge Patterson sentenced MARCU, 35, of Las Vegas, Nevada, to three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution, more than $1 million in forfeiture, and a $100 special assessment fee.
Harron previously pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and one count of money laundering for his role in the scheme. He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan on May 23, 2012.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding efforts of United States Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and United States Secret Service in the investigation, which he noted is ongoing. He also thanked the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center, for its assistance.
This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel C. Richenthal and David B. Massey are in charge of the prosecution.