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Romanian Man Pleads Guilty to Participating in International Fraud Scheme Involving Online Marketplace Websites

A Romanian man pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud for his participation in an international scheme involving fraudulent advertisements on online marketplaces that induced victims to send approximately $873,000 to conspirators for the purchase of various items that were not actually available for purchase, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith of the Middle District of Tennessee.

Vlad Diaconu, 36, of Bucharest, Romania, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Marvin E. Aspen of the Northern District of Illinois, who sits by designation in the Middle District of Tennessee. Diaconu was indicted in the Middle District of Tennessee in June 2015 for conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud in connection with his participation in the online marketplace scheme. Diaconu was extradited from Romania to the Middle District of Tennessee in August 2016.

In connection with his guilty plea, Diaconu admitted that his co-conspirators fraudulently listed vehicles for sale at online marketplaces such as eBay. When victims expressed interest in purchasing the vehicles, the co-conspirators responded with emails directing the victims to wire payments to specified bank accounts. These bank accounts were opened by members of the conspiracy, including Diaconu, who used false identities and fraudulent documents, including counterfeit passports. Specifically, twelve victims sent a total of $184,900 to accounts that were opened by Diaconu under the belief that they were purchasing the advertised vehicles, and other victims sent additional funds to bank accounts opened by co-conspirators. Diaconu and his co-conspirators subsequently sent the bulk of the victims’ funds to co-conspirators located overseas.

The FBI and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. Senior Counsel Mysti Degani of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Byron M. Jones of the Middle District of Tennessee prosecuted the case. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided substantial assistance.

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