By Kim Zetter
April 12, 2010
Romanian authorites made headlines last week after busting 70 suspected
cyberthieves accused of operating online auction scams. But it turns out
one of the ringleaders was set free after authorities failed to file the
required paperwork on time - and now he's vanished.
Police say the 70 suspects ran scams on eBay and other online auction
sites since 2006.
Romanian law allows suspects to be held in jail, in a so-called
preventive arrest, for 29 days while an investigation is underway if
authorities prove to the court that they need to hold the suspect while
evidence is examined. While the court was busy ruling on an extended
arrest for the other suspects, Nicolae Popescu, 30, walked out of the
courthouse without the police being notified, according to a local news
report. The deadline for his initial arrest had passed, and because the
court had not yet ruled on his extended detention, he was allowed to
Romanian police defended the slip, saying there were too many criminals
to process and not enough people to watch the suspects and do the
paperwork. Agents had been working 48 hours and were tired, a spokesman
told a local paper.
Police are now appealing to the public to be on the lookout for Popescu
or any of his three cars.
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