More than 100 arrested in U.S.-Romanian joint probe on Internet fraud scheme

10:24, July 16, 2011      

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More than 100 individuals have been arrested and charged as a result of joint actions coordinated since 2010 between the U.S. and Romanian law enforcement authorities, which have disrupted an Internet fraud scheme conducted by organized cyber criminals, the U.S. Justice Department said Friday.

In the latest action, Romanian law enforcement conducted 117 searches in nine cities on Thursday, targeting the individuals allegedly involved in the fraud scheme, the Justice Department said in a statement.

According to U.S. court documents, the Romanian suspects collaborated with conspirators in the U.S. to cheat online customers out of money by pretending to sell cars, motorcycles and boats on Internet auction and online websites.

They would instruct the victims who wanted to buy the items to wire transfer the purchase money to a fictitious name they claimed to be an employee of an escrow company. Once the victims wired the funds, the Romanian suspects would inform the co-conspirators in the U.S., known as "arrows," to retrieve the wired funds.

The "arrows" in the U.S. would go to money transmitter service counters, such as Western Union or MoneyGram International, to obtain the funds by providing false ID documents in the name of the recipient of the wire transfer. Then they would wire the funds overseas, typically to individuals in Romania, minus a percentage kept for their commissions. The victims would not receive the items they believed they were purchasing.

It was estimated that the Internet fraud scheme has resulted in a loss of more than 10 million U.S. dollars from victims, including those in the U.S., where 21 people have been charged for being involved in the scheme.

The probe was jointly conducted between the Romanian law enforcement authorities, including Romanian police and the Romanian Intelligence Service, and the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, Justice Department, and the U.S. attorney's offices in several districts in the states of Florida, Pennsylvania and Missouri, Texas and Kentucky.

Over the last 10 years, U.S. law enforcement authorities have strengthened ties with Romanian law enforcement authorities to address the rising threats posed by Romanian-based organized cyber criminal networks, according to the Justice Department.

Source: Xinhua
 
 
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