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Romanian middleman pleads guilty to $2.7m auction scam

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A Romanian native faces jail in the US after pleading guilty to participating in a $2.7m online marketplace scam.

Adrian Ghighina, 33, of Bucharest, admitted conspiracy, fraud and money laundering charges at a hearing at a US District Court in Illinois on Thursday.

Ghighina acted as a middleman collecting cash and bank transfers from victims who bought non-existent cars and motorbikes in fraudulent auctions for run on eBay, Craigslist and AutoTrader.com. He took between 20 to 40 per cent of the take before sending the remainder of the funds to his co-conspirators.

Ten other people have been charged over the scam, which dates back to November 2004.

The gang took over legitimate accounts and used fake escrow services in a bid to bolster their credibility. Investigators reckon as many as 1,100 victims were taken in by the scam.

Ghighina, already serving a 27 month term for visa offences, faces a sentencing hearing on the fraud charges on 9 May.

More details on the case can be found in a DoJ statement here. ®

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