Three Members of an Alleged International Cyber Fraud Ring Extradited from Romania to the United States

May 2, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 2, 2013 released the following:

“Romanian nationals Cristea Mircea, Ion Pieptea, and Nicolae Simion will make their first appearance before United States District Judge Edward R. Korman later today following their extradition to the United States from Romania. The defendants are charged with participating in a sophisticated multi-million-dollar cyber fraud scheme that targeted consumers on U.S.-based Internet marketplace websites such as eBay.com. Their extradition followed a coordinated international takedown in December 2012, during which law enforcement officials in Romania, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, and Canada, acting at the request of the United States, arrested six Romanian nationals, including Mircea, Pieptea and Simion. The Bucharest Appeals Court ordered the extraditions of Mircea, Pieptea, and Simion on February 2, 2013. The defendants were subsequently transported to the Eastern District of New York and arraigned on March 27, 2013.

The extraditions were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George C. Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office

As alleged in the indictment, the defendants and their co-conspirators saturated Internet marketplace websites, such as eBay.com, Cars.com, AutoTrader.com, and CycleTrader.com, with detailed advertisements for cars, motorcycles, boats, and other high-value items generally priced in the $10,000 to $45,000 range. Unbeknownst to the buyers, however, the merchandise did not exist. The so-called sellers corresponded with the victim buyers by e-mail, sending fraudulent certificates of title and other information designed to lure the victims into parting with their money. Sometimes, they pretended to sell cars from non-existent auto dealerships in the United States and even created phony websites for these fictitious dealerships.

The indictment further describes how, after the purported sellers reached an agreement with the victim buyers, they would often e-mail them invoices purporting to be from Amazon Payments, PayPal, or other online payment services, with wire transfer instructions. However, these invoices were also fraudulent—the members of the conspiracy used counterfeit service marks in designing the invoices so that they would appear identical to communications from legitimate payment services. The fraudulent invoices directed the buyers to send money to American bank accounts that had been opened by foreign nationals in the United States, known as “arrows.” Finally, the arrows would collect the illicit proceeds and send them to the defendants in Europe by wire transfer and other methods. For example, the arrows forwarded defendant Pieptea $18,000 cash in fraud proceeds hidden inside hollowed-out audio speakers.

According to court filings, the defendants and their co-conspirators allegedly defrauded their victims of at least $2 million during the course of the conspiracy. Notwithstanding the scope of the fraud, however, one of the co-conspirators boasted, in a recorded conversation, that “criminals will not be extradited from Romania to the U.S.A….[I]t will never happen.”

Each defendant is charged with conspiracy to commit substantives offenses against the United States, wire fraud, and money laundering. The defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment on each count of conviction.

“These three defendants allegedly reached across the globe to defraud Americans, pretending to be legitimate online vendors and payment providers. In reality, they were con men with a computer. The defendants’ extraditions to the United States should make clear that our efforts to protect Internet consumers do not stop at our borders,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “Thanks to our strong international partnerships, the notion that cybercriminals will never be extradited to the United States is merely a criminal’s fantasy.” Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the FBI for its assistance.

The Romanian government, particularly the Ministry of Justice, the Romanian Internal Intelligence Service, and the Directorate for Combating Organized Crime, provided significant assistance and support during the investigation, arrest, and extradition of the defendants. The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs worked with its counterparts in Romania to effect the extraditions, and the U.S. Marshals Service coordinated and transported the defendants to the United States.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Cristina Posa, Nadia Shihata, and Claire Kedeshian and Trial Attorney Carol Sipperly of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section.

The charges against the defendants are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Defendants:
Cristea Mircea, age 30, Romania
Ion Pieptea, age 36, Romania
Nicolae Simion, age 37, Romania”

Federal Wire Fraud Crimes – 18 U.S.C. 1343

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Romania here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Aleksander Efrosman Extradited from Poland Following Joint Investigation by the United States, Panama, Austria, Czech Republic, and Poland

August 8, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 8, 2011 released the following:

“Aleksander Efrosman, a U.S. citizen who had been living in Krakow, Poland, was extradited to the United States Friday evening to face mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering charges contained in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Brooklyn on February 16, 2006.[1] Efrosman was arraigned on Saturday morning before United States Magistrate Judge Andrew L. Carter at the U.S. Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, and ordered detained. The defendant’s initial appearance before United States District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis is scheduled for Wednesday, August 10, 2011, at 10:00 a.m.

The indictment and extradition were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office; and Ronald J. Verrochio, U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge, New York Division.

As alleged in the indictment and a detention letter filed by the government, from January 2004 through June 2005, Efrosman defrauded investors by soliciting investments purportedly for the purpose of trading in the stock market and the foreign currency exchange (“forex”) market. Efrosman falsely told investors that he had a history of profitable trading and that the investments would be protected by a “stop-loss” mechanism which ensured that no trade lost more than 3 percent. Based on these misrepresentations, Efrosman received over $5 million from more than 100 investors. Efrosman did not invest the funds as promised, but instead used the funds for his personal benefit, including gambling over $3 million at the Foxwoods Casino.

As detailed in the government’s filings with the court, in 2005, Efrosman fled the United States with millions of dollars of investors’ funds, first traveling to Cozumel, Mexico, then to Panama and ultimately to Poland, assuming the identity of “Mikhail Grosman” and using a high-quality fraudulent Russian passport. In the meantime, federal agents in the United States developed leads in Eastern Europe. In a coordinated multinational effort, law enforcement authorities in Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland tracked and ultimately arrested Efrosman in Krakow, Poland, on May 28, 2010.

“This defendant allegedly created a web of lies to fleece unsuspecting investors. He thought that his lies and a false identity would allow him to evade the consequences of his actions. He was wrong. Through the combined efforts of law enforcement on three continents, the defendant was identified, pursued and successfully apprehended,” said United States Attorney Lynch. “He will now be held to account for the charged crimes.” Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Department of State and law enforcement authorities in Canada, Panama, Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland for their assistance.

FBI Assistant Director in Charge Fedarcyk said, “In an open society, national borders pose little or no obstacle to determined criminals. That’s why international cooperation among law enforcement agencies is essential, both in solving crimes and in apprehending those who commit them. This defendant is now in custody because of that kind of cooperation.”

Postal Inspector in Charge Verrochio said, “I would like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for its relentless pursuit of the defendant. This case illustrates that alleged fraudsters can hide, but the Postal Inspectors and the FBI will never give up their search.”

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of the funds the defendant obtained through the charged fraud.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel Spector.

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The Defendant:
ALEKSANDER EFROSMAN
Age: 49”

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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