Man sentenced to 2-plus years for online car/boat sales scam

Local,Crime,Scott McCabe

A Hungarian scam artist who operated out of a Dupont Circle hotel was sentenced to more than two years in prison for his role in a scheme that advertised the sale of boats and cars online, but never came through with the delivery of the vehicles, authorities said.

Istvan Laszlo Csurgo, 31, of Budapest, was sentenced to 26 months behind bars, and ordered to pay more than $1.1 million in restitution. Csurgo was part of a three-person international crew that swindled more than $1 million from victims from around the United States in just three months last year, according to charging documents.

The trio used counterfeit Portuguese and Greek passports and drivers' licenses to set up set up limited liability companies, open more than a dozen bank accounts in D.C., Montgomery County and Northern Virginia, and rent out UPS Store mailboxes to establish D.C.-area addresses, prosecutors said.

The ring then advertised cars, trucks and boats on websites such as eBay and They used official-sounding businesses names like AMZ Vehicle Brokers and Vehicle International Brokers.

Their victims were from throughout the United States.

After the buyers wired the money to bank accounts opened with bogus identities by members of the ring, the trio would stop communication with them and never deliver the vehicle. The ring received an average of about $20,000 apiece from more than 60 victims, agents said.

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