- $1.8 million Bitcoin eBay scam run from a Romanian car wash has seen 15 members plead guilty
- US citizens were targeted with fake online adverts for high value items such as vehicles
- Proceeds were laundered through CoinFlux exchange into Bitcoin
An audacious $1.8 million Bitcoin eBay scam run from a Romanian car wash looks set to end in prison time in the US after 15 of the 17 participants pleaded guilty to crimes including racketeering and fraud. The “large-scale scheme of online auction fraud” involved advertising non-existent products online, the proceeds from which would then be laundered through a cryptocurrency exchange in an attempt to obscure it. The Bitcoin eBay scam was brought to an end in 2018, with all 17 members extradited to the US in 2019.
From Romanian Car Wash to US Courtroom
The Bitcoin eBay scam was run from a Romanian car wash and involved advertising high value secondhand products on US classifieds websites like eBay and Craigslist and then laundering the proceeds through CoinFlux cryptocurrency exchange and into various bank accounts. Some gang members even pretended to be eBay representatives in order to placate irate ‘customers’ when the products didn’t arrive.
The ringleader, Bogdan-Stefan Popescu, operated a car wash in Bucharest, Romania, a front for the group’s operations. Popescu, who coordinated the group’s efforts and directed various elements of the money laundering, this week pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy. Vlad Nistor, the founder of CoinFlux, also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy after exchanging over $1.8 million in stolen funds from fiat to Bitcoin through the exchange.
‘Not Guilty’ Bitcoin eBay Scam Gang Members Set for September Trial
Alongside this pair, 13 other members of the Bitcoin eBay scammers, who placed the adverts and ‘followed up’ with the customers, also pleaded guilty, with sentencing for all due later this year. Two other members, who pleaded not guilty, have a trial date of September 14.
The case illustrates two very clear points regarding those considering a career in cryptocurrency crime – Bitcoin is not anonymous, and the US arm of the law is extremely long.