Istvan Laszlo Csurgo, 30, of Budapest, Hungary, was indicted on February 17, 2012, by a federal grand jury on conspiracy, bank fraud and other charges stemming from an Internet-based fraud scheme that obtained more than $1 million from victims.

The indictment, returned in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The Washington FBI Field Office is handling the investigation.

Csurgo was arrested at the Charlotte International Airport on February 10, 2012 and remains in custody following his attempted return to the United States. He was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and false use of a passport. The indictment includes a forfeiture allegation calling for Csurgo to forfeit proceeds from the crimes. If convicted of all charges, the defendant faces a statutory maximum of 70 years in prison.

According to the indictment, Csurgo and others conspired to carry out the scheme from on or about June 1, 2011 through on or about September 1, 2011. Csurgo and his co-conspirators are accused of operating an international Internet-based fraud scheme that falsely advertised and purported to sell motor vehicles and boats on websites.

The indictment alleges that Csurgo and others used false passports and false driver’s licenses to open about 26 bank accounts at financial institutions, and induced buyers to wire money and funds into the accounts for the intended purpose of purchasing the vehicles and boats. After the funds were deposited, Csurgo and others allegedly withdrew the funds.

No other individuals were identified in the indictment as co-conspirators. The government is most likely still investigating the case to determine who else may be involved, in the U.S. and abroad.

The FBI investigates a variety of Internet-based fraud schemes. The alleged scheme in this case is referred to as an advanced fee scheme, whereby payment is made prior to receiving the item or service paid for. Of course, not all advance fee requests found on the Internet are scams. In fact, there are many legitimate advance fee requests, as most Internet shopping is conducted in this manner.

The FBI is usually tipped off to a potential advanced fee scheme by victims that have lost money. If the scheme is ongoing, the FBI has a much easier time of finding those behind the scheme by acting as a potential victim and following through with the transaction in order to locate those involved.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in Federal Criminal Defense matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or

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