Wanna make a cool $1 million? Find this man. He committed a crime that, especially to car enthusiasts, is unspeakable. Egregious. Appalling. A crime worse than those committed in the deepest, darkest pits of Craigslist. He stole millions of dollars by selling fake cars.
Imagine, one day you’re drooling over a sweet Jeep J10 you see on Autotrader. 4 speed, bench seat, razor grille? Only two grand? “Of course I’ll buy it!” you say. You pull the trigger, wire over the money, and wait. Time passes, and your driveway remains J10-less. You’ve been duped!
This happened to dozens of unsuspecting victims in 2012, when, according to The Washington Post, Nicolae Popescu and his compadres set up fake car ads on sites like Autotrader and Cars.com. The crew of conspirators posted descriptions and pictures of cars they did not own online.
Popescu and the crew negotiated with buyers through email, and sent over bogus invoices. The invoices included info for fraudulent U.S. bank accounts, which Popescu and the boys created with the phony identities they made using fake passports from Europe. Buyers negotiated, sent money over, and never heard back from anyone. No car, no emails, no calls. Silence.
Popescu and his gang of miscreants made out with over $3 million. And while six of his co-conspirators were apprehended, Popescu remains at large. He is being charged with: Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, Money Laundering, Passport Fraud, and Trafficking in Counterfeit Service Mark . Quite a list, there. Enough to get him on the FBI’s “Cyber Most Wanted” list.
The Bureau is offering up to $1 million for information that leads to Popescu’s arrest. We here at Jalopnik have expressed our disdain towards fraudsters numerous times, which is why we hope someone slaps a set of handcuffs on this guy soon before he can rip off any other innocent Jeep J10 buyers.