MIAMI, FL – Merkourios Alexopoulos, 46, and Sabrina Schnekker, 32, of Miami Beach, were arrested on an indictment charging them with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud in connection with a fraudulent online car sales website, according to a statement released by the United States Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida on November 26.
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Brian Swain, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service (USSS), Miami Field Office, and Daniel Oates, Chief, Miami Beach Police Department (MBPD) made the announcement.
According to the allegations contained in the indictment, from in or around August 2013, through May 2018, Alexopoulos and Schnekker operated Salvageworldauctions.com as an online retailer purporting to sell salvaged vehicles. Potential buyers would pay a $500 entrance fee to bid on the vehicles purportedly for sale.
Once a bid was accepted, Alexopoulos would allegedly discuss the final terms for the payment and delivery of the vehicles with the individual purchasers and instructed the victims to send the purchase monies via wire transfer or money orders to the various bank accounts controlled by Alexopoulos and Schnekker and maintained at City National Bank, Citi Bank, PNC Bank, Wells Fargo, Regions Bank, BB&T, Suntrust Bank, and Chase Bank, among others. After the victims transferred the purchase monies to the bank accounts controlled by Alexopoulos and Schnekker, the conspirators would use those monies to pay their personal expenses and to further the fraudulent scheme.
The indictment further alleges that Alexopoulos and Schnekker never delivered, nor did the victims receive, the vehicles ordered and paid for by the victim purchasers from Alexopoulos and Schnekker through Salvageworldauctions.com. In total, the investigation has revealed approximately 51 victims, with an approximately loss amount of $1.2 million.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of the USSS and MBPD. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan D. Stratton.
An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.