Money Launderer For $3.5 Million Vehicle Sale Scam Extradited From Lithuania

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Ricky Patel, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced today that STANISLAV TUNKEVIC, of Lithuania, was extradited to the United States on bank fraud and money laundering offenses arising from a scheme to launder money derived from an online vehicle sale scam that took in at least $3.5 million from defrauded consumers.  VLADISLAV NECEAEV, of Brooklyn, New York, recently pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud in connection with the same scheme.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said:  “This case is another reminder that while the Internet has often been a force for the public good, it has also been used by criminals to swindle the unwary.  But online fraudsters who hide behind the anonymity of the Internet still need co-conspirators like Tunkevic and Neceaev, who are willing to launder the loot.  This Office is committed to rooting out both the online scammers and their enablers.”

HSI Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Ricky Patel said:  “As alleged, Tunkevic and Neceaev laundered money for a group of fraudsters that preyed on innocent victims who were simply looking to buy a used car online; an act so common that it allowed the group of crooks to pocket millions off this elaborate scheme from unsuspecting customers.  With the use of Tunkevic and Neceaev’s money laundering services, their criminal partners used fictitious websites to lure victims to fraudulent dealerships, all to profit off the backs of hard-working people looking to make a legitimate purchase.  HSI New York’s El Dorado Task Force coordinated efforts with HSI’s Attaché office in the Hague to assist with this extradition and will work tirelessly to identify and prosecute all co-conspirators that perpetuated this consumer fraud and money laundering scheme.”

As alleged in the Complaint and the Indictments,[1] and based on statements made in court:    

From at least March 2019 through approximately March 2021, STANISLAV TUNKEVIC and VLADISLAV NECEAEV were members of a money laundering crew operating from Brooklyn that was coordinated by NECEAEV’s mother and co-defendant, Natalia Korzha.  Members of that crew, including TUNKEVIC and NECEAEV, opened numerous bank accounts in the name of shell companies for the purpose of laundering money stolen from consumers who were trying to buy vehicles online, in exchange for a cut of the victims’ money.  Other members of the conspiracy, pretending to represent car dealerships, advertised vehicles that they did not own and were not authorized to sell on fake websites with domain names that sounded like legitimate car dealerships, or through online marketplaces like Craigslist and eBay.  Victims who responded to those advertisements and negotiated a purchase price were instructed by the purported sellers to wire payment to accounts that TUNKEVIC, NECEAEV, and other co-conspirators opened.  Once the payments cleared, the account owners, including TUNKEVIC and NECEAEV, quickly withdrew the funds before the victims realized they had been defrauded.  The victims never received the vehicles they thought they had bought or any refunds from the fake sellers.  In total, dozens of victims were defrauded of a total of at least $3.5 million. 

TUNKEVIC was presented today in Manhattan federal court before United States Magistrate Judge Sarah Cave.

NECEAEV pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud on March 14, 2022, before Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger.

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STANISLAV TUNKEVIC, 47, of Lithuania, was extradited to the United States on March 25, 2022.  TUNKEVIC is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. 

VLADISLAV NECEAEV, 28, of Brooklyn, New York, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud on March 14, 2022.

The offense of conspiracy to commit bank fraud carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000,000.  The crime of conspiracy to commit money laundering carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction.

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of Homeland Security Investigations. He also thanked the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs of the Department’s Criminal Division, the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Lithuania, and the Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau for their assistance in this investigation.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Lai is in charge of the prosecution. 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the Indictments, and the description of the Complaint and Indictments set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described herein should be treated as an allegation as to the charged defendants.