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United States v. Andrei Catalin Stoica, et al. (5:18-CR-81-JMH) and United States v. Benjamin-Filip Ologeanu, et al. (0:19-CR-10-JMH)

Case Description – Online Auction Fraud:

On July 5, 2018, a federal grand jury in Lexington, Kentucky returned a 24-count indictment in United States v. Andrei-Catalin Stoica,charging 15 foreign nationals with RICO conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and aggravated identity theft.  On Feb. 6, 2019, a federal grand jury in Lexington returned another 11-count indictment in United States v. Beniamin-Filip Ologeanu, charging an additional foreign national and four Americans for their roles in the criminal enterprise.

The Stoica and Ologeanu indictments allege that these defendants participated in a criminal conspiracy primarily located in Alexandria, Romania that engaged in a large-scale scheme of online auction fraud.  Specifically, Romania-based members of the conspiracy and their associates posted false advertisements to popular online auction and sales websites—such as Craigslist and eBay—for high-cost goods (typically vehicles) that did not actually exist.  According to the indictment, these members would convince American victims to send money for the advertised goods by crafting persuasive narratives, for example, by impersonating a military member who needed to sell the advertised item before deployment. The members of the conspiracy are alleged to have created fictitious online accounts to post these advertisements and communicate with victims, often using the stolen identities of Americans to do so.  They are alleged to have delivered invoices to the victims bearing trademarks of reputable companies in order to make the transaction appear legitimate.  Once victims were convinced to send payment, the indictment alleges that the conspiracy engaged in a complicated money laundering scheme wherein domestic associates would accept victim funds, convert these funds to cryptocurrency, and transfer proceeds in the form of cryptocurrency to foreign-based associates. According to the indictments, these foreign-based associates exchanged cryptocurrency into local fiat currency on behalf of the Romania-based members of the conspiracy, knowing that they were exchanging bitcoin that represented the proceeds of fraud.

According to the indictments, some common tactics used in this scheme include the following:

Some of the fraud schemes alleged in the indictments include:

  • Posting advertisements to websites like Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, and Autotrader.com

  • Requests for payment for luxury items, most often vehicles, in the form of reloadable prepaid cards, including Green Dot MoneyPak cards, Visa OneVanilla cards, PayPal My Cash cards, and Amazon gift cards; United States postal money orders; cashier’s checks; MoneyGram and Western Union wires; and bank wires and deposits.

  • Use of fictitious but legitimate sounding entities such as

    • Aol Autos and the America Online Autos Financial Department,

    • eBay Motors and the eBay Motors Support Department using eBay Payments with eBay Buyer Protection

  • Pretending to be a member of the military

    If you have experienced this type of scam, you may be a victim in this case.  As a victim, you have certain enforceable rights, including the right of notice of public court proceedings, the right to restitution, and the right to be informed about the resolution of the case.

    The United States Secret Service is investigating this case. 

    If you believe you have been a victim of this scam, please click on the link below and submit your information;

  • SUBMIT YOUR INFORMATION

     

Updated February 7, 2019

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