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Online car-selling scam nets $4 million, prosecutors say

December 31, 2011 | 10:00 am

Cars
For more than three years, six foreign nationals ran an Internet vehicle-selling scam that bilked customers out of more than $4 million without delivering a single car, motor home or boat, according to a federal indictment out of Los Angeles this week. 

The indictment charges six people from Germany, Russia, Romania and Latvia with conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud and money laundering.

Starting in 2007 through 2010, the group put vehicles up for sale on auto-trading websites such as EBay Motors, Edmunds.com and Craigslist and collected at least $4 million from customers, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The funds were put into at least 110 bank accounts that were fraudulently set up using fake identities, according to the indictment. The money was then sent to Europe using wires, carry-on luggage or mailed packages, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors point to Romanian national Corenliu Stefan Weikum and Russian national Yulia Meshina-Heffron -– who both went by a slew of aliases –- as the ringleaders of the scheme.

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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Larry Steagall / Kitsap Sun / AP Photo

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