Romanian police, FBI break up 70-strong eBay fraud ring

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Romanian authorities, in conjunction with U.S. law enforcement, have arrested 70 individuals from three different organized cybercrime groups on charges they perpetrated online auction scams that targeted eBay users.

The arrests were the result of a string of raids organized by the Romanian Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), the agency said in a news release issued on Sunday.

Citing published reports out of Romania, the fraudsters may have carried out their scams by first launching phishing attacks to obtain login credentials from legitimate eBay users, Gary Warner, director of research in computer forensics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in a Tuesday blog post. The defendants then used the hijacked accounts to set up fake auctions selling big-ticket items, such as electronics, cars, airplanes, motorcycles and jewelry.

Since 2006, these cybercrime groups have scammed individuals in Spain, Italy, France, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria, the United States, Canada and Switzerland, DIICOT said. International authorities have identified more than 800 victims, from which fraudsters stole the Euro equivalent of more than $1 million.

The raids, which took place Sunday, were conducted in partnership with the FBI and U.S. Secret Service from the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, DIICOT said. Hundreds of law enforcement officers carried out the raids, which included 101 search warrants being served.

DIICOT said the operation was its most significant organized crime bust this year. But authorities there have dismantled other sophisticated fraud and ID theft rings during the past two years.

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