Two sentenced to prison for online money laundering

The Bulgarian residents used eBay to sell expensive and nonexistent vehicles

Two Bulgarians have been sentenced for their roles in an online money-laundering scheme that collected about US$1.2 million from U.S. residents and sent it to a criminal group in Eastern Europe, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Ivaylo Vasilev Pletnyov and Nikolay Georgiev Minchev used eBay and other Web sites to advertise expensive vehicles and boats they did not own, the DOJ said.

The two defendants and co-conspirators ran the scheme from about July 2005 to May 2006, the DOJ said in a news release.

When victims expressed interest in the vehicles or boats, they were contacted directly by an e-mail from a purported seller, the DOJ said.

The victims were then instructed to wire transfer payments through eBay Secure Traders, an entity with no affiliation to eBay.

EBay Secure Traders was supposedly a escrow account service, but instead, the victims' funds were wired directly into bank accounts in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Greece that were controlled by Pletnyov, Minchev and their co-conspirators.

Pletnyov, 39, of Svishtov, Bulgaria, was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to four years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering.

He was also ordered to pay $306,502 in restitution. Pletnyov pleaded guilty on Jan. 15.

Minchev, 45, of Sofia, Bulgaria, was sentenced Wednesday to 30 months in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and was also ordered to pay $270,444 in restitution. Minchev pleaded guilty on Sept. 21, 2008.

Pletnyov and Minchev were originally charged on Jan. 9, 2008, along with four additional defendants. The DOJ continues to work with foreign counterparts in Romania and Poland regarding the remaining defendants.

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