Police in the US and Romania have made more than 100 arrests aimed at stopping a criminal gang from defrauding internet users.
According to the US Justice Department a combined operation was carried out with 117 searches in the US and Europe that have resulted in more than 100 arrests. The criminal group are accused of holding fake auctions and then channelling funds through money mules in the US and elsewhere.
“The internet fraud scheme has resulted in an estimated loss of more than $10 million from victims, including those in the US, the Justice Department said in a statement.
“The full loss amount and identification of additional victims is ongoing.”
The gang posted adverts for high-ticket items like cars, motorcycles and boats on internet auction and sales sites. Respondents were asked to wire the money via Western Union or MoneyGram International to escrow accounts, where it was forwarded on to Romania by money mules working on commission. No products were ever delivered.
According to local media in Romania the actual amount stolen my be double the estimate from the US, with the gang operating from 2009 in a sophisticated operation. The majority of those arrested in the US have been charged with wire fraud, money laundering and false identification, with some pleading guilty so far.