Three men and a woman who were part of gang responsible for a £600,000 internet shopping fraud have been jailed.

Horatiu Sbughiu, 32 (05.12.83) of East Drive, Barnet and Cristian Nicolaescu, 28, (13.05.88) of Spring Garden, Redbridge, were sentenced at Harrow Crown Court on Friday 18 November.

Two accomplices who laundered funds from the fraud – Nicolae Boieru, 40, (30.11.75) and Alexandra Gyor, 28 (26.08.88), both of Spring Garden, Redbridge, – were sentenced on Monday, 24 October.

Sbughiu and Nicolaescu received four years’ imprisonment each after they were convicted on Tuesday, 6 September of conspiracy to commit internet shopping fraud and possession of a laptop for use in fraud.

Boieru and Gyor, were both convicted of laundering the proceeds of the fraud on Friday, 23 September and were sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment and a twelve month community order with unpaid work, respectively.

All four pleaded guilty in September this year at the same court at an earlier hearings.

DC Chris Collins of FALCON, the Met’s response to Fraud And Linked Crime Online, said:

“These individuals duped over 500 people after fraudulent adverts, usually for motor vehicles and property lettings, were placed on classifieds websites such as Autotrader, Gumtree and Airbnb. In addition, a series of wholly fake websites were set up mimicking an online shopping store purporting to sell electronic goods such as washing machines, cookers, computers, mobiles and cameras.”

The websites were set up to defraud victims twice as victims were duped into entering their card details into the site. The fraudsters would then falsely claim the card had been declined and then ask for a bank transfer into a fraudulently opened mule account. Some victims transferred money into mule accounts never to hear from the sham business again. Other victims discovered the card details they entered earlier were used to make fraudulent purchases.

Nicolaescu obtained counterfeit Romanian National ID cards, false proof of address documents and false employment references for use in opening fraudulent mule accounts. He also acquired bank account details from the fake website, controlled the mule accounts once they had been opened by ‘cashing out’ and chaperoned others as they cashed out mule accounts by accompanying them to the banks.

Sbughiu’s role was to commit the fraud using his Toshiba laptop. When arrested, Sbughiu was in possession of the laptop which was later linked to at least 201 separate incidents of Internet shopping fraud valued at £387,185.29. Nicolaescu’s laptop was also linked to over £300k worth of fraud.

Boieru laundered £8,296.05 from the fraud through a mule account obtained from a third party.

Gyor laundered £7,300 from the fraud by allowing the money to be paid into her own legitimately opened bank accounts.

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