October 25, 2010
Over recent years Romania has experienced a rise in large scale organized crimes. Common among these crimes are wide-scale internet frauds that often target victims living within the United States. The frauds may involve:
• false “sales” of non-existent goods through online marketplaces such as eBay, Craigslist or Autotrader;
• identity theft cases involving stolen credit card numbers that are used to wire transfer funds via Western Union and Moneygram; and
• theft cases using keyloggers or phishing methods.
Victims of these frauds include:
• individuals who are directly defrauded. For example, these are the victims who send money in exchange for a good that it turns out is fictional and they are then out of money;
• the banks which, in certain circumstances, reimburse the individual victims who were defrauded and are therefore financially harmed; and
• the wire transfer companies that are sometimes forced to absorb the losses.
To handle these cases, the Romanian prosecutors and investigators need to:
• identify the victims through their personal data such as IP address;
• obtain a formal complaint from each victim that includes a short description of
-the facts of the fraud;
-the harm that the fraud caused the victim (both financial and other harm);
-how the victim learned of or discovered the harm;
-who the victim believed committed the fraud; and
-other relevant information.
• find and secure enough evidence that can connect the victim to the defendant(s) and prove a crime happened. Among the evidence that the prosecutors and investigators hope to obtain from victims to aid the prosecution are: emails, money transfers, bank receipts, and payment receipts.
Because these crimes cross state and country lines, involve the internet, impact multiple victims, and are often well-organized schemes, securing sufficient evidence for prosecution is challenging. Investigators may use wire tapping, surveillance, and multiple search warrants for computers and email accounts to secure the necessary evidence from the offender(s). What this means is that the investigation can take a long time; far longer than many within the United States for “simpler” crimes.