A man who was arrested in Madison in June pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud for his role in moving about $550,000 derived from an international online fraud scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
According to testimony, Aleksandar Kunkin, 40, of Hungary, fraudulently listed vehicles for sale at online marketplaces, such as eBay.
When potential buyers expressed interest in purchasing the vehicles, co-conspirators sent emails that directed the buyers to wire payments to certain bank accounts.
In total, 36 individuals sent approximately $550,102.50 to accounts opened by Kunkin and a co-conspirator. None of the victims ever received the vehicles they paid for.
"International online marketplace fraud schemes pose a serious threat to consumers and to internet commerce," said U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin. "Foreign-based criminals believe they can flee safely back to their home countries and avoid the consequences of the crimes they commit here. They are mistaken.
"Federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement officials increasingly are working together to investigate, arrest and prosecute the people responsible for these schemes. The safe havens for these criminals are shrinking thanks to these coordinated efforts. Prosecutions like this one reinforce that message."
According to testimony given from May to June, Kunkin and a co-conspirator visited Bank of America branches in North Carolina and South Carolina and opened bank accounts under false identities, which were supported by fraudulent identity documents including counterfeit Hungarian passports.
Investigators said Kunkin opened 15 accounts, each under a different name. Kunkin and a co-conspirator then sent the bulk of the money to other co-conspirators located abroad.
Kunkin was arrested in June when he attempted to open an account at a Bank of America branch located in Madison, TN, using a Hungarian passport bearing the alias "Dennis Miller."
He was charged locally with two counts of forgery under $500 and was later indicted by a federal grand jury in August.
Kunkin is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 21. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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