Internet Auction Scammer Sentenced to Federal Prison
Posted: Monday, March 1st, 2010 at 12:02 pm
Miami, FL—Bidders on the popular Internet site eBay, working together with postal inspectors and other authorities, have helped bring down one of the auction site’s biggest scammers.
A Brazilian businessman whose legal name is Nilton Rossoni, but who had multiple aliases, including “Jorge Carlos” and “Celso Ferreira,” has bilked over 5,500 consumers—to the tune of $717,000.
With assistance from his son, Nilton Joel Rossoni, the scammer carefully crafted the ongoing heist. It involved at least 260 different account on eBay, dozens of email addresses, and nearly 60 P.O. Boxes. From 2003 until he was caught, in 2008, the pair auctioned a variety of items ranging from tools and expensive flashlights to sporting good and exercise equipment. All of the items were paid for with cashiers checks or money orders, and none of it was ever delivered.
When buyers complained, Rossoni would blame the post office or make other excuses for the delay, and then promise a refund. This bought him some time to continue using the fraudulent account. He also manufactured positive feedback to keep his online reputation in good standing.
Although the case is one of cyber-crime, it was cracked using good old fashioned detective work. U.S. Postal Inspector Richard Koss, who began investigating “Jorge Carlos” after being tipped off by a Florida congressman, simply went to a UPS mailbox site in the Fort Lauderdale area and waited. Eventually the con artist—whom Koss identified from pictures which were kept on file at the postal stores, as required by law—came to collect his mail, and Koss wrote down his license plate number. He then found that the Kia Rio was registered to Nilton Rossoni.
After learning Rossoni’s real identity, Koss and federal prosecutors investigated online message boards and complaints submitted to the FTC and local police departments, and looked at email and bank records. Rossoni was arrested in August 2009 at Miami International Airport, and earlier this month, was sentenced to five and a half years in federal prison.
Nilton Joel Rossoni, 28, is a former Brazilian race car driver who attended college in Florida. He is still on the loose, and is believed to be in his native country.
Many bidders who use eBay to shop, take advantage of the online payment service PayPal, which allows buyers to file complaints and receive refunds if their item is not delivered. Buyers who pay for their winning auction bid with a money order, bank check or personal check—as allowed and even required by some sellers, like Rossoni—have little or no recourse in the event that they are swindled. There is a pending federal court hearing in the case of Rossoni’s victims, which may offer restitution.