Skip to main content
Press Release

Foreign National Sentenced to 40 Months Custody for $5 Million Unemployment Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – November 20, 2023

SAN DIEGO – Constantin Bobi Sandu, who admitted that he masterminded a scheme to steal more than $5 million in California unemployment benefits intended to help workers affected by the pandemic, was sentenced in federal court today to 40 months in prison.

According to his plea agreement, Sandu conspired with over 200 other individuals across California and in Romania to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars by fabricating documents, creating fictitious accounts and businesses, and filing bogus claims with California’s Economic Development Department, which administers the state’s unemployment benefits. Among other things, Sandu wired $16,000 in fraud proceeds to Romania to renovate his house.

Sandu also was ordered to forfeit $214,950 that he personally received from the offenses.

“This devious scheme diverted millions of dollars from those who truly needed it during the pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath. “The public health emergency may be over, but we are still tracking, charging, and convicting the people who exploited it.”

“The FBI remains fully committed to ensuring people who intentionally stole government funds during the COVID-19 pandemic are brought to justice,” said FBI San Diego Special Agent in Charge Stacey Moy. “We continually collaborate with our law enforcement partners to thoroughly investigate all those responsible for stealing from the United States Government and its people during such a critical time in our lives, taking away valuable resources and services from those truly in need.”

“Mr. Sandu and his criminal organization committed financial crimes that hurt people here in California and stole funds intended for those in need,” said Special Agent in Charge Tyler Hatcher, IRS Criminal Investigation, Los Angeles Field Office. “IRS:CI is committed to partnerships with law enforcement organizations around the world, and we will follow the money to find the guilty and bring them to justice.”

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Adeline Schulberg.

DEFENDANT                                               Case Number 23CR0386-LAB                                

Constantin Bobi Sandu,                                  Age: 34                    Romanian national

   aka Constantin Sandu,

   aka Bobi Sandu,

   aka Ionut Mihai                     


Title 18, U.S.C.  § 1349 and 1343 - Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud

Maximum penalty: Thirty years in prison, a fine of $1 million or both;

Title 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(2)(A) — Laundering Monetary Instruments

Maximum penalty: Twenty years in prison and $500,000 fine or twice the value of the monetary instrument or funds involved in the transportation, transmission, or transfer, whichever is greater;

Title 18 U.S.C. §§ 981(a)(1)(C) and 982(a)(1), and Title 28, U.S.C. § 2461(c) - Criminal Forfeitures 


Federal Bureau of Investigation

San Diego Police Department Economic Crimes Unit

IRS Criminal Investigation

California Employment Development Department Investigative Division

Department of Labor Office of Investigator General

U.S. Department of Homeland Security


Media Relations Director Kelly Thornton (619) 546-9726 or

Updated November 21, 2023

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: CAS23-1120-Sandu