Romanian national Romeo Vasile Chita, 38, was extradited to face charges accusing him of being the leader of an international cyber fraud criminal group that managed to steal around $4 million using phishing campaigns and fraudulent online auctions.
"Romeo Vasile Chita allegedly led a multinational criminal enterprise that stole sensitive personal data through deceptive phishing emails and organized fraudulent online auctions, causing millions of dollars in losses to innocent victims," stated Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski in Department of Justice's Office of Public Affairs press release.
Chita is accused of wire fraud conspiracy, racketeering, conspiracy to launder money, and conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit services.
The cyber fraud ring which began operating around 2007 was made out of eight other individuals but at the time only two other ones, Daniel Mihai Radu, 39, and Manuel Tudor, 37, have been extradited from Romania and are awaiting trial in Cleveland.
The alleged cyber fraud ringleader was already sentenced to three years behind bars in Romania
Moreover, the cybercriminal organization allegedly led by Chita operated in multiple countries around the world, with the United States, Romania, Canada, Croatia, Latvia, Hungary, Bosnia, China, Jordan, and Malaysia being mentioned in DOJ's press release.
"When a victim clicked on a link in a fraudulent email, specialized malware incorporating a “keylogger” was installed onto the victims’ computers, allowing members of the criminal enterprise to capture sensitive and confidential information, including the victims’ bank account information," also said Benczkowski.
After stealing the banking credentials, the defendants used a network of mules to withdraw funds from their victim's accounts and then shuffled them between multiple US bank accounts in an attempt to conceal the money's origin.
The conspirators are also being charged with running an online action fraud campaign on eBay, Craigslist, Autotrader.com, and other auction websites where they tricked their victims into wiring funds for non-existent items.
This is not the first time Romeo Vasile Chita faces the law as he already received a three years imprisonment sentence in Romania on February 2, 2018, after being accused and found guilty of organizing a criminal group.