Internet fraud warningProtect yourself from Internet fraud

01 November 2005

Fraud experts have warned internet shoppers to be extra vigilant after three people were jailed for conning thousands of customers of the online auction site eBay.

Romanian couple Nicolae and Adriana Cretanu, of Leytonstone, east London, and George Titar, of Stratford, east London, stole more than GBP 250,000 over a 22-month period.

The fraudsters advertised items - ranging from motor vehicles, sporting events, binoculars, electrical items and parachute trousers - on eBay. But none of the goods existed.

Victims sent money via Western Union transfer to one of the trio's 12 aliases and the fraudsters were then able to pick up the payment within minutes of it being sent. This was then transferred out of UK jurisdiction back to Romania.

Last week Nicolae Cretanu was sentenced to three-and-a-half years' imprisonment while Adriana Cretanu and George Titar were jailed for two-and-a-half years each.

Detective Chief Superintendent Nigel Mawer, Head of the Economic and Specialist Crime Unit at the Metropolitan Police, said: 'This is a significant operational success by the Economic and Specialist Crime Unit against an international organised criminal network using internet auction sites and money transfer to make significant profit by defrauding ordinary members of the public.

'Do not use money transfer to send money to someone whose identity you do not know.'

Our advice is to use eBay's official payment system, PayPal, and check the seller is a verified PayPal seller.