Bulgarian National Extradited from Poland to the United States to Face Charges Related to Alleged Role in International Money Laundering Scheme
|Washington, D.C. May 25, 2010|
Alleged Scheme Resulted in Nearly $1 Million in Losses to U.S. Victims
WASHINGTON—A Bulgarian man appeared in federal court in the District of Columbia today to face charges related to his alleged role in managing a money laundering network for a transnational criminal group based in Eastern Europe, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division. According to court documents, in less than one year, the criminal conspiracy allegedly netted nearly $1 million from U.S. victims.
Georgi Vasilev Pletnyov, 49, of Svishtov, Bulgaria, was extradited from Poland to the United States on Friday, May 21, 2010. U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay today ordered Pletnyov detained pending a hearing scheduled for May 28, 2010. Pletnyov is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
According to the indictment, Pletnyov allegedly participated in a scheme that operated from July 2005 through May 2006, which involved the posting of advertisements on eBay and other websites, fraudulently offering expensive vehicles and boats for sale that the conspirators did not possess. The indictment alleges that when the U.S. victims expressed interest in the merchandise, they were contacted directly by an e-mail from a purported seller. According to the indictment, the victims allegedly were then instructed to wire transfer payments through “eBay Secure Traders”—an entity which has no actual affiliation to eBay but was used as a ruse to persuade the victims that they were sending money into a secure escrow account pending delivery and inspection of their purchases. Instead, the victims’ funds allegedly were wired directly into bank accounts in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland that were controlled by co-conspirators.
Pletnyov was originally charged on Jan. 9, 2008, along with five additional defendants: Roman Teodor, Ivaylo Vasilev Pletnyov, Nikolay Georgiev Minchev, Georgi Boychev Georgiev and Antoaneta Angelova Getova. On Dec. 2, 2009, Ivaylo Vasilev Pletnyov and Nikolay Georgiev Minchev were sentenced to four years and 30 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in the money laundering conspiracy. Georgiev pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering on May 13, 2010, and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 23, 2010. The United States continues to work with foreign counterparts regarding the remaining defendants.
An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.
This investigation was conducted by the FBI - Hungarian National Bureau of Investigation Organized Crime Task Force located in Budapest, Hungary (Budapest Task Force). The Budapest Task Force was established by the FBI in April 2000 to address the increasing threat of Eurasian organized crime groups to the United States.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Lisa Page of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section. Senior Trial Attorneys Deborah M. Gaynus and Betsy E. Burke of the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance on this case.