NASHVILLE – Alexandru Stanciu, 34, of Bucharest, Romania, pleaded guilty Friday to one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud for his role in moving about $320,000 in illicit proceeds derived from an international online marketplace fraud scheme, according to David Rivera, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.
According to testimony at the plea hearing, members of the conspiracy fraudulently listed vehicles for sale at online marketplaces such as Autotrader and eBay. When potential buyers expressed interest in purchasing the vehicles, co-conspirators sent e-mails that directed the buyers to wire payments to certain bank accounts. In total, 17 individuals sent about $321,389 to accounts opened by Stanciu. None of the victims ever received the vehicles for which they paid.
“International online marketplace fraud schemes pose a serious threat to consumers and to Internet commerce,” said Rivera. “Foreign-based criminals believe they can flee safely back to their home countries and avoid the consequences of the crimes they commit here. They are mistaken. Federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement officials increasingly are working together to investigate, arrest and prosecute the people responsible for these schemes. The safe havens for these criminals are shrinking thanks to these coordinated efforts. Prosecutions like this one reinforce that message.”
According to testimony, beginning at least as early as December 2011 and continuing to as late as July, Stanciu opened bank accounts under false identities, which were supported by fraudulent identity documents including counterfeit passports. Stanciu opened 10 such accounts, under nine different names. Stanciu subsequently sent the bulk of the money to other co-conspirators located abroad
Stanciu was apprehended in July 2013 at Miami International Airport, from which he was scheduled to travel to Bucharest, Romania by way of London. At the time of his arrest Stanciu had $1,850 and 4,600 Euros in cash in his possession.
Stanciu is to be sentenced June 2. He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Byron M. Jones with the Middle District of Tennessee and trial attorney Mysti Degani with the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section prosecuted the case.