EBay scammer jailed - Watford


Sharp eyed police officers thought Alexandru Chirila was acting suspiciously near a bank in Watford High street and decided to stop him.

St Albans Crown Court was told on Friday, 25 January 2013, the suspicions of the Herts officers were well founded because Chirila had just fraudulently withdrawn £500 from a bank account as part of duties for a gang operating an eBay scam.

As police dug deeper into the Romanian's activities, they discovered that over the last two years he had helped in the 'laundering' of £200,000 for the fraudsters.

Chirila, 34, from Linden Avenue in Wembley appeared in the dock in custody to plead guilty to fraud, possessing articles for use in fraud, possessing an identity document with improper intention, possessing a false identity document, possessing criminal property in the shape of £3,730 in cash and money laundering.

David Chrimes prosecuting for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it was on 13 June last year when the defendant was spotted by the officers in Watford High Street. He had just withdrawn the money using a bank card issued in the name of someone called Daniel Ruso.

As a result, officers searched the defendant's home and discovered a large number of false documents in the shape of Romanian identity cards and passports. There were phoney Portuguese identity documents with false names, but bearing the defendant's photo.

Mr Chrimes said Chirila became of interest to Bedfordshire police who, for some time, had been investigating an eBay scam which relied on fraudulent bank accounts being set up across the county.

Bedfordshire detectives estimated that in a two year period up to June of last year, just over £200,000 had passed through the accounts and been withdrawn as part of the scam.

Mr Chrimes explained how the scam operated and said people buying high value items on eBay had fallen victim to a sophisticated gang of fraudsters who had managed to "hijack" the transactions and then instruct them to pay the money into the fraudulent accounts that had been set up.

Chirila's role had been to open accounts and withdraw money get it to the the gang's bosses. He in turn would be paid for his assistance.

Mr Chrimes said: "Money was withdrawn in cash and never seen again."

He described the scam as having "professional hallmarks" and said the defendant had been "part of a significant enterprise."

The court was told that Chirila had come to the UK to work as a painter and decorator, so that he could send money back to Romania and pay for medical care for his sick father. However, he had lost his job and succumbed to the temptation of getting involved in the criminal enterprise when approached by others.

Passing sentence, Judge Steven Gullick said Chirila's home had been like an "Aladdin's Cave" of phoney identity documents.

The judge said the scam was sophisticated and he went on "It came to light when you were seen in Watford High Street acting suspiciously after you had just withdrawn £500 using false ID."

He jailed Chirila for 27 months.

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