Men charged in $9 million international auction fraud case held in Mahoning County Jail

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Madalin Ghinea, Costel Alecu charged with wire fraud, Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) -Two men charged in an international fraud scheme are being held in the Mahoning County Jail.

Costel Alecu, 37, of Bucharest, Romania, and Madalin Ghinea, 34, of Alexandria, Romania, are facing several charges surrounding an online auction scheme to sell items that never existed in an attempt to get personal information from their victims.

Many of the transactions targeted people in Northeast Ohio.

The indictment alleges that beginning in July 2008 through August of 2020, Alecu, Ghinea and other unknown actors devised a scheme to entice victims in the United States and elsewhere to purchase items online, including vehicles and other high-value items, that did not exist and to obtain the personal identifying information of their victims. As a result, victims suffered a combined loss of approximately $9 million.

In certain cases, Alecu and others allegedly created and used fictitious websites, email addresses and other forms of communication that contained counterfeit trademark information designed to convince their victims that the advertisements were genuine, according to prosecutors.

Money launderers and “money mules” were used to help hide their scheme and transfer money overseas prosecutors said.

This case was investigated by the Cleveland FBI with help from authorities in Romania.

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