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December 29, 2016

Prosecutors: Bucks County man used auto dealership to defraud Russians out of $2 million

A Bucks County man was arrested for an alleged $2 million scheme to defraud Russian citizens who bought luxury cars from a New Jersey auto dealership, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Sergey Kapustin, 47, of Warminster, was charged with one count of wire fraud and conspiring to commit wire fraud, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

According to court documents, Kapustin owned Elizabeth-based Global Auto Group, which sold used cars and "salvaged" high-end vehicles.

Authorities said Kapustin published at least one Russian website that offered luxury vehicles, usually Mercedes and Lexus, at discounts. Most of the customers, 140 in total, lived in Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet Union territories. The offer promised "easy delivery" to Finland if they paid full price upfront.

When victims complained about delays in delivery, Kapustin allegedly offered excuses and other inferior cars.

However, Kapustin often did not have the titles to the vehicles that were being sold. The vehicles that were sent to Finland were inoperable due to salt water.

Investigators estimate that Kapustin illegally obtained $2 million between January 2011 and December 2014.

If convicted, Kapustin faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.