Romanians Running eBay Auction Scams - Scammers Caught!

eBay and Auction Website Scams

Romanians on eBay - Beware of Sellers and buyers in Romania

Are you looking to buy or sell on Ebay? The FBI has busted at least one eBay scam crime ring in Romania and there are reports of many more still operating. More than twenty suspects have been indicted as the result of an ongoing, multi-agency investigation into Romanian crime ring.

Representatives from the Chicago Field Office of the Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI), the Chicago Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Chicago Police Department announced the charges together on December 12th, 2006. Altogether, the defendants and others allegedly illegally obtained more then $5 million dollars from victims in a variety of schemes.

Here's how this eBay scam worked on buyers:

  1. The majority of victims believed they were purchasing an item from the EBay auction site.

  2. After unsuccessfully bidding on items, they were told they were receiving a second chance offer from the seller.

  3. Victims then wired money one of the defendants who posed as the seller or the seller's agent. Investigators believe the fraudulent solicitations originated from, and a substantial portion of the proceeds were transmitted to, unidentified co-schemers located outside the United States, most believed to be in Romania. Most of the money was collected at Western Union locations (NEVER send money via Western Union, unless you really know and trust the person!) in Chicago, where many of the alleged perpetrators lived.

  4. Other victims were sent an email from the crime ring informing them that their EBay accounts would be terminated if they didn't reply back with their password and other account information. They would then use this information to take over the victim's account and use it to rip off other EBay users.

EBay sellers were victimized as well. Here's how that scam worked:

  1. The thieves would bid on an item but would not pay through PayPal. Instead, they would persuade the seller to put the money into a fake escrow account.

  2. The seller would ship the product and the escrow account would vanish.

Eight defendants were arrested in the Chicago area the day of the announcement, five were already in custody, one is expected to surrender later, and six are fugitives at this time. Each of the defendants is charged with one count of wire fraud. If convicted, they each face a maximum penalty of twenty years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The Court would also order restitution and determine the appropriate sentence to be imposed.

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