- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 14, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Seven people in Louisiana and two others in Mississippi have been arrested in connection with an international online sales scam.

A news release from Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office on Tuesday said the nine are suspected to have ties to organized crime in Romania.

They are alleged to have stolen about $1.4 million from more than 500 people.

The scam described by Caldwell involved redirecting online shoppers away from websites such as eBay and Craigslist to imitation sites and collecting money from them through money services such as Western Union.

Agencies involved in the investigation and arrests included Attorneys General offices in Louisiana and Mississippi, Louisiana State Police, federal authorities and local authorities in St. Landry Parish, St. Martin Parish, Calcasieu Parish, Pearl River and Lafayette.

In Louisiana, seven people with Breaux Bridge or Lafayette addresses, ranging in age from 26 to 47, were arrested on felony racketeering charges Tuesday morning. They were booked into the Lafayette Parish Prison and were being held without bond pending a hearing. Each racketeering charge carries a possible sentence of up to 50 years in prison.

Two others from Lafayette were being held in Mississippi on similar charges, Caldwell’s news release said. Information on where they were being held was not immediately available.

Two other suspects were at large.

Additional charges are likely and more arrests are expected, the news release said.

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