Romanian law enforcement officials on Thursday executed 117 searches targeting more than 100 people in an ongoing effort with the U.S. Department of Justice to break up a large Internet auction fraud scheme, the DOJ said.
In many of the cases, conspirators located in Romania would post items for sale, including cars, motorcycles and boats, on Internet auction and other websites, the DOJ said in a press release. They would tell interested buyers in the U.S. to send money by wire transfer to fictitious names that they claimed to be employees of an escrow company.
After the victims transferred the money, the participants in Romania would tell co-conspirators in the U.S. how to retrieve the wired funds and where to send the funds. The U.S. participants, called "arrows," would provide false identification documents to money wire services such as Western Union or MoneyGram International, the DOJ said.
A wide group of law enforcement agencies have participated in the effort, the DOJ said. Among them are the Romanian General Inspectorate of Police, Directorate for Combating Organized Crime, the Romanian Directorate for Investigating Infractions of Organized Crime and Terrorism, the Romanian Intelligence Service, the General Directorate of Jandarmeria in Romania; and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service, the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the DOJ's Criminal Division, and the U.S. attorneys' offices for the Southern District of Florida, the Western District of Pennsylvania and the Eastern District of Missouri.