Adrian Ghighina, 33, of Bucharest, Romania, was sentenced to 48 months in prison last week by U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly in Chicago after he pleaded guilty in February 2011 to one count each of wire fraud and conspiracy.
According to court documents, Ghighina, who entered the United States legally in late 2004, acted as a “money mule”, moving and hiding money as part of a complex Internet fraud scheme. Ghighina’s co-conspirators, many of whom are in Romania, created fraudulent online auctions for expensive items such as cars, motorcycles and RVs on websites such as eBay, Craigslist and AutoTrader.com.
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Victims who responded to these fraudulent listings were directed, in some cases by email or telephone, to transmit payment for the non-existent items using Western Union and bank wire transfers to accounts controlled by Ghighina.
Ghighina admitted that he moved from city to city, opening new accounts at various banks using false identification as part of the conspiracy. The victims never received the items for which they had paid. From approximately September 2005 until his arrest in October 2009 in Miami, Ghighina opened accounts and/or received funds in Illinois, the District of Columbia, Florida, New York, Arizona and elsewhere.
Based on a plea agreement, Ghighina’s sentence imposed will run concurrently with his sentence in a separate Florida case, for which he has already served 21 months in prison.