WASHINGTON, D.C.– A Bulgarian national was sentenced today to 15 months in prison for his role as a money launderer for a transnational criminal group based in Eastern Europe.
Georgi Boychev Georgiev, of Sofia, Bulgaria, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman in the District of Columbia. In addition to his prison term, Georgiev was also sentenced to three years of supervised release following his prison term and was ordered to pay $161,400 in restitution. Georgiev pleaded guilty on May 13, 2010, to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Georgiev was extradited from Poland to the United Stated in December 2009. Prior to his extradition, Georgiev was incarcerated for over three years in Poland for related offenses.
According to court documents, from approximately May 2006 through October 2006, Georgiev participated in a scheme to post advertisements on eBay and other web sites, fraudulently offering expensive vehicles and boats for sale that the conspirators did not possess. When the U.S. victims expressed interest in the merchandise, they were contacted directly by an e-mail from a purported seller. The victims were then instructed to wire transfer payments through “eBay Secure Traders”—an entity which has no actual affiliation to eBay but was used as a ruse to persuade the victims that they were sending money into a secure escrow account pending delivery and inspection of their purchases. Instead, the victims’ funds were wired directly into bank accounts in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Greece and Poland, which were controlled by Georgiev and his co-conspirators. According to court documents, in less than one year, the criminal conspiracy netted more than $1.2 million from U.S. victims.
Georgiev was originally charged on Jan. 9, 2008, along with five additional defendants: Roman Teodor, Georgi Vasilev Pletnyov, Ivaylo Vasilev Pletnyov, Nikolay Georgiev Minchev and Antoaneta Angelova Getova. On Dec. 2, 2009, Ivaylo Vasilev Pletnyov and Nikolay Georgiev Minchev were sentenced to four years and 30 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in the money laundering conspiracy. Georgi Vasilev Pletnyov was extradited to the United States from Poland in May 2010. The United States continues to work with foreign counterparts in Romania and Poland regarding the remaining defendants. An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI – Hungarian National Bureau of Investigation (HNBI) Organized Crime Task Force located in Budapest, Hungary (Budapest Task Force). The Budapest Task Force was established by the FBI in April 2000 in an effort to address the increasing threat of Eurasian organized crime groups to the United States.