Romanian dating scam
Most specialize in ecommerce scams and malware attacks on businesses.
According to authorities, these schemes have brought tens of millions of dollars into the area over the past decade, fueling the development of new apartment buildings, nightclubs, and shopping centers.
"They learned to create scenarios," says Michael Eubanks, an FBI agent in Bucharest.
"We've seen email between criminals with instructions on how to respond to different questions." The scammers started hiring English speakers to craft emails to US targets.
Râmnicu Vâlcea was better off than many towns in this relatively poor country—it had a decades-old chemical plant and a modest tourism industry.
"I found him sitting in an Internet café, chatting online," says Costel Ion, a Piteşti cop who had been working the cybercrime beat."He just confessed."But as in any business, the scammers innovated and adapted.One early advance was establishing fake escrow services: Victims would be asked to send payments to these supposedly trustworthy third parties, which had websites that made them look like legitimate companies. To explain unbelievably low prices for used cars, for example, a crook would pose as a US soldier stationed abroad, with a vehicle in storage back home that he had to sell.One of the first cases out of the region involved a team based in the neighboring town of Piteşti.One crook would post ads for cell phones; the other picked up the wired money for orders that would never ship.