December 14, 2006, 12:00 AM

Feds charge 21 for alleged $5 million fraud scheme targeting eBay bidders

Federal officials in Chicago have indicted 21 people accused of bilking eBay bidders out of more than $5 million in an Internet fraud scheme that originated in Romania. The defendants have been charged with wire fraud.

 

Federal officials in Chicago have indicted 21 people accused of bilking eBay bidders out of more than $5 million in an Internet fraud scheme that originated in Romania. The defendants have been charged with wire fraud.

Operators of the scheme allegedly contacted people who had unsuccessfully bid on items for sale on eBay, offering them a second chance to buy the items, according to the indictment announced earlier this week. The fraudulent online solicitations often shared identical features, such as bogus eBay logos and other graphics, and false assurances that buyers would be protected by insurance and escrow funds.

The victims were instructed over the Internet to send money via Western Union to the seller or seller’s agent, generally located in the Chicago area. However, the victims did not receive the goods for which they paid, federal officials say.

“This case is an example of using new technology to commit an old-fashioned fraud scheme,” says Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Chicago.

More than 2,000 people from across the U.S. and abroad were victimized in the scheme, according to the indictment.

 

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