Car sales scam tied to Romanian organized crime ring, Negrea jailed in Santa Paula
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Ventura County Sheriff's Department
Claudio Jean Negrea.
Claudio Jean Negrea.

Location: Thousand Oaks, Ca.
Date & Time/ RB#: ongoing investigation / 09-27690
Unit Responsible: Thousand Oaks Police Department Forgery/Fraud Investigations Unit

Buying a car online can be a hazardous process, especially if you’re willing to part with your money without examining the merchandise in person.

Take the recent case of Claudio Jean Negrea, who was arrested last month on several burglary and fraud charges. Negrea, who told investigators he was a Swedish national named Marvi Hult, had advertised two vehicles on the Internet.

He sold a recreational vehicle and a BMW sedan to a customer in Texas, and another in Oklahoma. He posted photographs of the vehicles online, but deflected requests to meet in person to showcase the vehicles.

Negrea’s advertised prices were well below what would have been customary for the types of vehicles he offered.

Ultimately, the buyers agreed to wire money to an escrow account, to which Negrea directed them. The website looked legitimate, but was fraudulent. Once the money was wired to the account, Negrea went to the bank and pulled the money out.

Fortunately, officials at a local bank in Thousand Oaks determined the wire transfers were suspicious, and that the account had just recently been opened. They called the sheriff’s department when Negrea came to the bank to withdraw a huge sum of money.

Deputies arrested Negrea when they realized none of the information he provided them was legitimate.

Negrea never owned the advertised vehicles and had no intention of shipping anything to the two buyers, who eagerly awaited their purchases. The two customers had paid Negrea a combined total of $72,800.00.

Negrea was also arrested in Beverly Hills in July 2009 for similar activity. He has used several names and passports from different European countries while perpetrating these crimes. He is believed to be connected to a larger group of organized criminals with ties to Eastern Europe.

Negrea is currently in custody at the Todd Road Jail in Santa Paula in lieu of $250,000.00 bail.

Negrea has advertised vehicles using such Internet sites as,, and

Many successful transactions occur on a daily basis using these Internet sites. Escrow accounts are also used routinely to legitimize purchases and protect buyers from fraud. What was different in these cases was that the victims used a link provided by Negrea, which directed them to a bogus web page, mirroring a legitimate one. Instead of going to an escrow account, the victims’ funds were routed to a personal bank account set up by Negrea.

In order to avoid being the victim of this type of crime, people should type in website information themselves, rather than use a link provided by the seller.

The best way to avoid this situation altogether is to meet the seller in person and examine the car. Then the parties can engage in an appropriate transaction directly through a bank to ensure they don’t become victims of fraud.