A man who scammed eBay customers has been sentenced to six years in jail and fined $118,000. Twenty-one-year-old Charles Stergios of Maine was found guilty and ordered to pay his victims restitution.
Assistant US Attorney Halsey Frank said the sentence handed down was more than he requested - despite an agreement, Stergios didn't show enough remorse for the judge's liking and so a 60-month sentence was increased by a year.
Stergios also threw a pitcher of water at Frank during his sentencing, but Frank said he didn't think that entered into the judge's decision.
In pronouncing sentence, the judge said that in addition to harming his victims financially and emotionally, Stergios had put a dent into the trust that is the basis for society in general and the Internet in particular.
Stergios pleaded guilty to three consolidated counts of wire fraud, mail fraud and bank fraud. Between April 2003 and about January 2004, Stergios tried to fraudulently buy and sell merchandise, including jewelry, watches and computers, through eBay.
He had at least 321 victims, and tried to trick his victims out of around $420,000, but the actual loss was closer to $120,000 because some of the transactions weren't completed.
Stergios would obtain either valuable merchandise for which he did not pay full value, or he would accept personal checks, bank checks, money orders, wire transfer payments and PayPal payments for merchandise that he did not deliver, and he then refuse refunds.
In addition, Frank said Stergios would bid on items such as jewelry, watches and computers, accept delivery of the merchandise and then pay with a check from a non-existent account at Border Trust in South China, Maine.
Border Trust received about 176 fraudulent bank checks for a total of more than $200,000, written on behalf of Stergios, Evolve Ent, Utopia Gifts, Draco Products and Thomas Brooks. Those persons or entities did not have accounts with Border Trust and the checks were not legitimate, Frank said.
While not going into detail, an eBay spokesman said the company's fraud investigation team worked with Maine authorities and provided them with information they needed to apprehend Stergios. "We're glad he's going to jail," a spokesman said.
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