Golders Green crime gang jailed for £450,000 eBay auction scam

PUBLISHED: 18:05 26 February 2016 | UPDATED: 18:56 26 February 2016

Members of the gang from top left clockwise: Christian Calistrache, Mihai Cercerlaru, Florin Drechichi, Madalin Popescu      pictures: City of London Police

Members of the gang from top left clockwise: Christian Calistrache, Mihai Cercerlaru, Florin Drechichi, Madalin Popescu pictures: City of London Police


Members of a Golders Green gang who laundered nearly £450,000 in cash from an “industrial sized” internet auction scam have been jailed for a total of more than 18 years

Roxanna TruscaRoxanna Trusca

The gang of Romanians offered non-existent cars, vans and caravans for sale on eBay and other auction websites, the Old Bailey heard.

The adverts were linked to fraudulent bank accounts set up using false documents by hundreds of other Romanians the gang brought over to the UK for a few days.

Soon after the prospective buyers had transferred the money, the funds were removed and all lines of communication were cut.

Prosecutor Stephen Hooper said: “This was a sophisticated internet fraud using fake eBay pages.”

False ID documents for the bank accounts and texts about the movement of money were found at a “fake identity making factory” in Finchley Road, near Golders Green.

Roxanna Trusca, 28, Madalin Popescu, 34, Florin Drechichi, 25, Mihai Cercerlaru, 35, and Christian Calistrache, 31, are due to be sentenced on Thursday for their part in the scam.

The court heard more than £450,000 was washed through accounts, controlled primarily by Popescu who had a key to the Finchley Road address.

Drechici, of Garrick Avenue, Golders Green, and Popescu, of Horseshoe Lane, Watford, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to money launder between June 2014 and September 2015.

Cercerlaru, of Woodstock Avenue, Golders Green, Calistrache, of Wykeham Road, Hendon, and Trusca, of no fixed abode all admitted conspiracy to money launder in November last year.

A second charge of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation was left on file for all defendants.

Sentencing the five, Judge Michael Brompton QC, said: “It hardly needs to be said that these were pernicious offences of fraud inflicted on people who were in no position to bear them and caused great anguish.

“I am told that the camper vans offered for sale were particularly attractive to those on the point of retirement.

“They were frequently the subject of the advert and some individuals lost their life savings.

“You five provided an essential and highly-organised service to the fraudsters.”

The judge said it is believed 200 people were flown over from Romania to open 177 bank accounts, with their group laundering at least £450,000.

“I note out of fairness to you those operating the fraud appear to have had access to more than one money laundering team,” the judge continued.

But he added: “I’m perfectly satisfied that each of you had a very significant executive role in this operation.

“None of you was a puppet in the hands of others or a mere courier or a gofor and it was obvious you were colose to the heart of the fraud, working in close cooperation with those who were operating it.”

UK citizen Popescu, who moved to the country from Romania ten years ago, was jailed for five years.

His girlfriend, Trusca, was sentenced to three years and eight months imprisonment,

Cercelaru was jailed for two-and-a-half years, Drechi for three-and-a-half years and Calistrache for three years and seven months.

Related articles

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories


Police chased a Volkswagen Polo across three boroughs on Monday morning after it crashed into a patrol car at low speed.

Friday, December 7, 2018

A Crouch End inventor is crowdfunding to launch an innovative and wearable air pollution monitor inspired by his own worries as a new dad.

Friday, December 7, 2018

British Transport Police are looking to speak to a man about three women being racially abused on an underground train.

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Carlton Tavern could be reopened in April, nine months after the planning inspectorate told them to rebuild it.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Coffee isn’t the only thing Deniz Korkmaz is brewing up in Kentish Town.

Friday, December 7, 2018

We chat to five local designers and artists who tell us about the one thing they must have or do at home that puts them in the Christmas mood

Friday, December 7, 2018

An application to redevelop a house in Swiss Cottage, owned by an off-shore company linked to an address in the Panama Papers and billionaire property mogul Sol Zakay, has been approved.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Two sisters from Muswell Hill were lucky enough to meet the Queen last Wednesday after playing a pivotal role in publication of a book about an adoption pioneer.


Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now