USA: Selling Fake Cars Online Lands Man on FBI's Most Wanted
10 July 2015 - Autoblog
From a criminal's point of view, cyber crime and defrauding people from the safety of sitting behind the keyboard must seem a whole lot safer than trying to rob a bank in the real world.
Stealing from people is illegal no matter the means, though, which is why it's not surprising that the FBI even has a dedicated most-wanted list to track down these Internet fugitives. The man with the second-highest reward currently being offered by this division of the Feds is someone that any car buyer would love to see behind bars. Nicolae Popescu and a ring of fellow thieves allegedly took $3 million from people by selling fake vehicles online, and the FBI has put up $1 million for the tip to catch him.
Popescu and his cohorts allegedly had a fairly simple scam to steal from people looking for a set of wheels, but the trick worked very well. They posted fake vehicles on sites like Cars.com and Autotrader in 2012, according to The Washington Post. When someone was interested, the criminals would send a fraudulent invoice that appeared legit. Members of the ring opened bank accounts in the US with fake passports, and the victims would wire away the money without ever receiving the car.
According to The Washington Post, six of the members of this ring were arrested in 2012, and a warrant was issued for Popescu on December 20, 2012. US District Court indicted him on multiple counts, including wire fraud, money laundering, passport fraud, and trafficking in counterfeit service marks. He's now believed to be in Romania. If you know something about Popescu and want to nab the million-dollar reward, you can submit a tip at the FBI's Cyber Most Wanted page