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Million-Dollar Reward Offered for Fugitive in Online Car Scam

The State Department offered a $1 million reward Tuesday for the capture of Romanian fugitive Nicolae Popescu, who's accused of running a cyberscam that sold Americans millions of dollars' worth of luxury vehicles that never existed through bogus ads on some of the biggest sites on the Web.

The FBI added Popescu, 34, to its 10 Most Wanted Cyber Fugitives list, and a separate $750,000 reward was offered for an alleged accomplice, Dumitru Daniel Bosogioiu, 33, also of Romania.

According to an indictment outlining the sophisticated scheme filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, Popescu, Bosogioiu and at least 11 other co-conspirators defendants saturated sites like eBay, Cars.com and AutoTrader.com with detailed ads for cars, motorcycles and boats proceed at $10,000 to $45,000. They created nonexistent auto dealerships with phony websites, high-quality fake passports as IDs, fraudulent title certificates and counterfeit Amazon and PayPal invoices to complete the "sales," according to the indictment.

They made off with more than $3 million before the cyber ring was brought down last year in an investigation involving police agencies in multiple states and at least six other countries, including Britain, Canada and Germany, the Justice Department said.

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— M. Alex Johnson