SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle says a 47-year-old man from Spain has been arrested in connection with an Internet sales scam that used false postings and a fake payment process to collect nearly $950,000 from unsuspecting buyers.

Prosecutors said Thursday Juan Carlos de la Cruz Piote was part of a group that opened several bank accounts in Western Washington to receive the money buyers paid for what they thought were real luxury cars, boats and RVs. He was arrested in New York July 22 as he tried to enter the U.S. from Romania and was indicted Wednesday.

Prosecutors say that Piote and others would advertise their sales on Craigslist or, then respond to potential buyers with false names and tell them to wire money to an “escrow account.” The charges say the conspirators created a payment page called “Amazon Payments” that had nothing to do with the online retail company.

The indictment says that between Februrary and August of 2011, Piote and others bagged nearly $940,000. One ring member has already been sentenced to prison.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


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