Woodford Green gang jailed for role in £687k fake Airbnb and Gumtree advert scam
- Credit: Met Police
Two men from Woodford Green have been jailed for their role in a gang which used fake Airbnb and Gumtree adverts to scam people of more than £687,000.
They also created fake websites, pretending to sell washing machines, mobile phones and cameras, which duped more than 500 people.
Cristian Nicolaescu, 28, of Spring Gardens, Woodford Green, was jailed for four years at Harrow Crown Court on Friday for conspiracy to commit internet shopping fraud and possession of a laptop for fraud.
Horatiu Sbughiu, 32, of East Drive, Barnet, was given the same sentence for the same charges.
Nicolae Boieru, 40, and Alexandra Gyor, 28, also of Spring Gardens, Redbridge, were sentenced on October 24 for helping Nicolaescu launder the money.
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They were sentenced to eight months imprisonment and a 12 month community order respectively. All four admitted the offences in hearings in September.
Det Con Chris Collins of FALCON, the Metropolitan Police’s Fraud And Linked Crime Online unit, explained how the gang committed the crimes.
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“These individuals duped over 500 people after fraudulent adverts, usually for motor vehicles and property lettings, were placed on classifieds websites such as Autotrader, Gumtree and Airbnb,” he said.
“In addition, a series of wholly fake websites were set up mimicking an online shopping store purporting to sell electronic goods such as washing machines, cookers, computers, mobiles and cameras.”
Victims were actually defrauded twice, as after entering their card details into the site the fraudsters then falsely claimed the card had been declined and asked for a bank transfer into a fake mule account.
Nicolaescu obtained counterfeit Romanian national identity cards to open the bank accounts and he also controlled them.
Boieru laundered £8,296 through a mule account obtained from a third party and Gyor laundered £7,300 by allowing money to be paid into her own legitimately opened bank accounts.
A spokesman for Gumtree said: “We do not tolerate the use of our site for fraudulent activity, and are committed to tackling fraud and educating people about how to avoid scams.
“This case shows that sadly there are scammers out there trying to rip people off, which is why we have safety advice on buying and selling throughout our website, ensuring that this is front of mind for all those who use Gumtree.”