Romanian law enforcement on Friday arrested more than 100 people alleged to be involved in a multi-million dollar US-Romanian fraud network.
The perpetrators would post online advertisements for cars, boats and motorcycles, designed to dupe US consumers into wiring cash to a false escrow account, according to the US Justice Department.
Wire transfer facilities, such as MoneyGram and Western Union, were a key part of the scheme, which typically involved a fraudulent seller in Romania and so-called “arrows” located in the US.
The fraudsters in Romania would instruct victims to wire cash to a fraudulent escrow account and then text instructions to the arrow who would then retrieve and forward the funds to Romania minus a commission.
The scheme relied on a supply of false identity documentation, such as passports and drivers’ licenses, which were also used to establish falsely authenticated US bank accounts.
To date, 20 people have been arrested for alleged involvement in the crime network, which is estimated to netted the group US$10 million.
“The full loss amount and identification of additional victims is ongoing,” the Justice Department said.
The arrests were part of a joint operation between Romanian authorities and the FBI, US Secret Service and the Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property team.
In the past fortnight, US authorities arrested and charged two more Romanians residing in Miami with wire fraud.
Separate June raids on the room of two more alleged arrows, Klara Rusu and Eduard Neascu, produced a large amount of cash, printers, computers, plastic used to make identifications, an exacto knife, several mobile phones and false identifications, according to the Justice Department.