WASHINGTON–A Romanian national pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia for leading a money laundering network for a transnational criminal group based in Eastern Europe, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. According to court documents, in less than one year, the criminal conspiracy netted approximately $1.4 million from U.S. victims.
Roman Teodor, 36, a resident of Romania, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Teodor voluntarily surrendered to U.S. authorities on April 10, 2011. At sentencing, scheduled for Aug. 29, Teodor faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
According to court documents, Teodor participated in a scheme that operated from July 2005 through November 2006, and involved the posting of fraudulent advertisements on eBay and other websites 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 email from a purported seller. According to court documents, 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 and Poland that were controlled by Teodor’s co-conspirators.
Teodor was originally charged on Jan. 9, 2008, along with five additional defendants: Georgi Vasilev Pletnyov, Ivaylo Vasilev Pletnyov, Nikolay Georgiev Minchev, Georgi Boychev Georgiev and Antoaneta Angelova Getova. On Dec. 2, 2009, Ivaylo Vasilev Pletnyov and Nikolay Georgiev Minchev were sentenced to 48 months and 30 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in the money laundering conspiracy. On Oct. 8, 2010, Georgi Boychev Georgiev was sentenced to 15 months in prison for his role in this scheme. On April 11, Georgi Vasilev Pletnyov pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. His sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 22. The United States continues to work with foreign counterparts in Bulgaria regarding Antoaneta Angelova Getova.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI – Hungarian National Bureau of Investigation Organized Crime Task Force located in Budapest, Hungary (Budapest Task Force). The Budapest Task Force was established by the FBI in April 2000 to address the increasing threat of Eurasian organized crime groups to the United States.