Defendant was Part of a Ring That Tricked People Who Thought They were Buying Cars, Trucks, and Boats
WASHINGTON—Istvan Laszlo Csurgo, 31, of Budapest, Hungary, pled guilty today to federal charges stemming from an international Internet-based fraud scheme that obtained more than $1 million from people who thought they were buying cars, trucks, and boats.
The guilty plea, which took place in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, was announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr.; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; John W. Schilling, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service; and David Beach, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the United States Secret Service.
Csurgo was arrested at the Charlotte, North Carolina International Airport on February 10, 2012 and has been in custody ever since. He pled guilty this morning to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of use of a false passport. The Honorable Richard W. Roberts scheduled sentencing for August 17, 2012. The charges carry a maximum statutory penalty of 40 years. The charges also carry potential fines and an order of restitution. Csurgo also has agreed to forfeit $756,511, representing proceeds he obtained through the scheme.
According to a statement of offense signed by the defendant, Csurgo and others conspired to carry out the scheme from on or about June 1, 2011 through on or about August, 31, 2011. Csurgo and his co-conspirators falsely advertised and purported to sell motor vehicles and boats on websites, targeting buyers located mainly in the United States.
With assistance from his co-conspirators, Csurgo used false passports and false driver’s licenses to open about 45 bank accounts at financial institutions in the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. During the course of the scheme, Csurgo came to understand that buyers were being induced to wire money and funds into these accounts for the intended purpose of purchasing the vehicles and boats. He and others fraudulently withdrew funds from the accounts before the buyers, financial institutions, and law enforcement detected the scheme.
As part of his plea agreement, Csurgo admitted that he obtained and attempted to obtain approximately $756,511 from various financial institutions during the scheme. As charged in the original indictment, the co-conspirators allegedly received, collectively, over $1 million from the scheme. Also as part of his plea agreement, Csurgo has agreed to cooperate in the government’s ongoing criminal investigation.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin, Special Agent in Charge Schilling, and Special Agent in Charge Beach praised those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and the United States Secret Service’s Washington Field Office. They also commended the efforts of Paralegal Specialists Lenisse Edloe, Tasha Harris, and C. Rosalind Pressley of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Finally, they acknowledged the work of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael K. Atkinson and Diane Lucas, who prosecuted the case.