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Date: 09-12-2022

Case Style:

United States of America v. Costel Alecu

Case Number: 1:20-cr-00442

Judge: John R. Adams

Court: United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio (Summit County)

Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office

Defendant's Attorney:

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Description: Akron, Ohio criminal lawyer represented Defendant charged with his role in an international criminal network engaged in a wide-ranging online auction fraud scheme that targeted victims in the Northern District of Ohio and elsewhere in the United States.

From July 2008 through August 2020, Costel Alecu, age 38, of Bucharest, Rominia and codefendant Madalin Ghinea, 35, of Alexandria, Romania, were part of a conspiracy that devised a scheme to entice victims in the United States and elsewhere to purchase items online, including vehicles and other high-value items, that did not exist and to obtain the personal identifying information of their victims.

As a result, victims suffered a combined loss of approximately $3 million USD.

As part of the scheme, Alecu and other conspiracy members created accounts on various auction websites to post advertisements for goods that did not exist. In certain cases, Alecu and others created and used fictitious websites, email addresses and other forms of communication that contained counterfeit trademark information designed to convince their victims that the advertisements were genuine.

In addition, court documents state that the conspirators used a number of fraudulent online communication templates and email addresses to deceive victims into believing that they were communicating with legitimate business representatives when, in fact, they were speaking with a member of the conspiracy.

Court documents state that Alecu and others in the conspiracy then used a network of money launderers and money mules to obtain payment from their victims and transfer the funds overseas. Alecu and the conspirators then used the stolen personal identifying information of their victims, credit cards and bank accounts to launder money overseas and fund the operation of their network by purchasing items such as virtual private networks and domain names.

Romanian authorities arrested Alecu and Ghinea in March 2021.

Madalin Ghinea was sentenced on June 1, 2022, to more than four years in prison and ordered to pay $450,000.00 in restitution for his role in the scheme.

This case was investigated by the Cleveland FBI and IRS Criminal Investgation (CI) with help from authorities in Romania. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Duncan T. Brown and Brian S. Deckert of the Northern District of Ohio with assistance provided by the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.

18:1343 Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud

18:1343 Wire Fraud

18:2320(a)(1) Conspiracy to Traffic in Counterfeit Service Marks

18:1956 (h) Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering

18:1028(A)(a)(1) and 2 Aggravated Identity Theft

Outcome: Defendant sentenced to the Bureau of Prisons for a term of of 46 months as to Counts 1-11 concurrent and 24 months as to Count 12 consecutive with credit for federal time served. Supervised release for a term of 3 years as to Counts 1-11 and 1 year as to Count 12 all concurrent with conditions. Special assessment of $1,200.00. Fine waived. Restitution amount to be determined.

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