Crime Ring Allegedly Filed for $5M in Fraudulent State Benefits, Sent Some Proceeds to Romania

Federal courthouse
Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

Fourteen people have been charged in San Diego with fraud and money laundering for their alleged roles in a scheme to take more than $5 million in state unemployment funds.

The alleged crimes were revealed in a partially unsealed indictment Thursday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says the defendants recruited and helped hundreds of people apply for California Employment Development Department benefits using fraudulent documents.

David Constantin and Constantin Bobi Sandu were paid by the applicants for helping them apply and received additional money after the EDD payments arrived, according to prosecutors.

Sandu has pleaded guilty and is slated to be sentenced on Monday in San Diego for his part in the scheme. Constantin was arrested in Romania earlier this week and the Department of Justice is seeking his extradition to the U.S.

Nine of the fourteen defendants listed in the indictment have not been arrested.

According to prosecutors, Sandu, Constantin and other co-defendants wired proceeds from the fraud to Romania, where the funds were used on personal expenses.

Sandu wired $16,000 to Romania in order to renovate his house, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, while Constantin sent more than $128,000 to Romanian associates. Prosecutors say another co-defendant, Eduard Buse, used $105,000 in proceeds to buy a 2020 BMW X6 and have the car shipped to Romania.

In total, the defendants received nearly $5.2 million from the state, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

– City News Service