Woodford Green fraudster who masterminded £1million ID con must pay back £400,000, court orders

Pictured is Mihai Cirstoiu, 37, of Ray Lodge Road in Woodford. Photo: Metropolitan Police

Pictured is Mihai Cirstoiu, 37, of Ray Lodge Road in Woodford. Photo: Metropolitan Police - Credit: Metropolitan Police

A Woodford Green man who masterminded a counterfeit ID factory and carried out a £1 million online fraud must pay back more than £100,000 or his prison sentence will be extended.

Mihai Cirstoiu, 39, of Ray Lodge Road, was convicted in February last year of conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to money launder and money laundering.

At a Proceeds of Crime hearing at Blackfriars Crown Court a judge determined he must pay back £413,050 or serve four more years in jail.

He will also be required to sell his flat in London; forfeit £63,000 in cash seized by the police from the house; forfeit two safety deposit boxes, six designer watches, two diamond rings and two bars of gold bullion worth £57,000; and forfeit a total of £133,000 held in bank accounts.

Maria Bilici, 33, of Hunters Ride, Bricket Wood, St Albans, who had also been involved in the scam, must sell her house and pay back £80,000 or serve an extra year in jail.

Bilici and Cirstoiu were sentenced for their part in the scam which involved hundreds of fake adverts for non-existent goods and services being placed on legitimate websites such as eBay.

More than a hundred mule bank accounts were set up at high street banks to receive money from the fraud.

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These accounts were set up using counterfeit EU National ID cards, passports and utility bills produced by a co-conspirator.

Cirstoiu masterminded the scam and was sentenced to six years' imprisonment in February 2018.

Bilici was sentenced to four years' imprisonment.

The five defendants in the case received a total of 22 years and six months' imprisonment.

The sentences came as the result of a lengthy and protracted investigation carried out by the Met's Fraud and Linked Crime Online Unit (FALCON).

The confiscated funds will be now paid to the many hundreds of victims of the fraud.

Officers continue to appeal for information on the whereabouts of a man wanted in connection with the investigation.

Detectives are searching for Sebastian Ilie, 33.

He is known to have links to Romania.

An EU wide warrant has been issued for Ilie's arrest.

Falcon's Det Con Chris Collins said: "These defendants were part of a large scam which defrauded many victims out of more than £1 million.

"As the result of a lengthy and protracted FALCON investigation, they were identified, arrested and jailed for their parts in this conspiracy.

"Our focus is now solely on tracing Sebastian Ilie who is the only outstanding suspect in this case.

"I would urge anyone who has any information regarding his whereabouts to contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 quoting crime reference number 5225186/17.

"They do not ask your name and cannot trace your call."