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Press Release

Romanian Man Heads To Prison On 33 Counts Of Wire Fraud

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

VICTORIA, Texas – Romanian national Doru Gabriel Trifu, 29, has been ordered to federal prison following his convictions on 33 counts of wire fraud in an Internet fraud scheme, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson and Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). A federal jury sitting in Victoria convicted Trifu following a four-day trial on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013.

Today, Senior U.S. District Judge John Rainey, who presided over the trial, sentenced Trifu to a total of 96 months in federal prison to be followed by three years supervised release. He was further ordered to pay $562,239.78 restitution. In handing down the sentence, Judge Rainey noted this was the most extensive fraud scheme he had ever seen and that the scheme played to someone’s allegiances and loyalties to the military. Not a U.S. citizen, Trifu is expected to face deportation proceedings following his release from prison.

Trifu, a Romanian non-immigrant residing in Orangevale, Calif., was part of the fraudulent scheme in which consumer items were listed for sale over the Internet. Individuals attempting to make purchases were instructed to send money via MoneyGram to an escrow agent who would accept the funds, complete the transaction and deliver the item. However, after the buyer electronically transferred the money, the item would never be delivered.

“This case serves as an important and timely ‘Cyber Monday’ reminder that consumers need to be careful when shopping online,” said Moskowitz.

During trial, the government presented videos and numerous surveillance photographs taken from Wal-Mart stores across Texas, Mississippi and Alabama where the fraudulent transactions occurred.

Testimony was provided by several victims who described how they were told they were purchasing the item from a U.S. serviceman who was about to deploy to the Middle East and were told to use a third party broker to complete the transaction. 

An agent with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) also testified and identified a pattern of approximately 230 fraudulent transactions between March 2011 and February 2012 using two fake U.S. passport numbers. Over the course of the scheme, the amount of identified fraud totaled more than $567,000.
Trifu has been in custody since his November 2012 arrest in California where he will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The case was investigated by HSI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Watt is prosecuting.

Updated April 30, 2015