Reporting Joe Shortsleeve
BOSTON (CBS) – An international car scam has been tricking people online and a major player may have been busted here in Boston.
Investigators say the 31-year-old man with ties to the Romanian mob is part of a sophisticated gang who dupe car buyers into using bogus payment methods.
Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve has the WBZ exclusive.
The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office says, “The defendant is part of a Romanian organized crime ring.”
Catalin Buzea of Romania was opening bank accounts with a fake passport when he was arrested in Lexington last Friday by local police and federal agents.
Sources tell WBZ Buzea has been duping people nationwide who are buying cars online. He’s been operating out of a Woburn hotel room for the past six months.
Investigators say well trained thieves like Buzea are working with counterparts in Romania.
They successfully direct online car buyers to bogus yet very real looking online payment systems.
Michele Grand of the Suffolk County District Attorney Office says buyers, “Were duped because the people they thought they were buying the cars from provided them a fake Paypal link.”
Two months ago WBZ told you about Ethel Allen of East Bridgewater who lost $5,000 trying to buy a car on the eBay Motors site. Thieves tricked her into sending payment by Western Union.
A law enforcement source says he is almost certain it was Buzea who picked up Allen’s money at a supermarket west of Boston.
“I am glad he is arrested,” says Allen. “I am just hoping that maybe I can get my money back and I hope no one else has to go through this.”
A law enforcement source says just in the past three weeks Buzea opened multiple bank accounts and transferred more than $100,000 to Romania, all the result of online auto scams.
Sources say Buzea is in the country legally on a visa but federal agents will be working to get him deported.
The judge has ordered he be fitted with a GPS tracking ankle bracelet if he is released on $100,000 bail.