Well, my repeated calls,
letters, emails and faxes continue to be ignored by the police,
ministers and Putin himself. Here's why. The victim must file a
complaint himself in the girl's city. Otherwise, no case can be opened
against her. So, guys, if you lose money, it's gone forever. (But there
might be some light on the horizon. Find her real city and tell me.)
MAY 2007 - Oleg Elsukov
(1983) and Sergey Chetverikov (1985), from Yoshkar-Ola, Mari El
Republic, were found guilty of defrauding a German citizen, Frederick
D., of 28,400 euros in 2005-2006. The scammers used stolen pictures of
Russian ballerina Anastasia Volchkova. The case was heard by
Yoshkar-Olinskiy Municipal Court in the spring of 2007.
was probably the first successful prosecution of dating scammers in
Mari El Republic in years. According to court documents, the scammers,
Mr. Elsukov and Mr. Chetvertikov, operated from the apartment of Mr.
Chetvertikov's mother, where the two set up a workshop. They decided to
use pictures of Russian ballerina, Anastasia Volchkova, for
scam. They placed the stolen pictures on international Internet dating
sites under the name of Svetlana Timakova (Svetalove), a single Russian
lady looking to create a family.
In 2005, a German citizen Frederick D., responded to their ad. His
relationship with "Svetlana" quickly progressed, and soon "Svetlana"
was ready to meet the man of her dreams. After Frederick sent her 900
euros for the purchase of tickets to Germany, 3900 euros for the
"medical insurance" and 8000 euros to repay the bank loan that Svetlana
supposedly had to close before leaving the country, the crooks were
scrambling for ideas how to continue milking the trusting German for
money. They came up with a story that Svetlana's mother needed heart
surgery (6400 euros), and then Svetlana needed money for her mother's
funeral (3850 euros) and then to pay off family debts (2000 euros).
Frederick began to realize that Svetlana was not interested in coming
to Germany when more money requests followed. He contacted police in
Germany, and soon the case went to the Mari El Republic.
The real Svetlana Timakova, an acquaintance of Mr. Elsukov and Mr.
Chetvertikov, claims no knowledge of the content of the correspondence
conducted in her name. She was hired by the scammers to receive Western
Union transfers using her passport. For each transaction, she claimed
she received 5% of the transfer.
When Ms. Timakova realized that police were investigating the case, she
agreed to become a witness for the prosecution.
In the spring of 2007, Mr. Elsukov and Mr. Chetvertikov went to trial.
The defendants did not dispute that they had access to the apartment
from which the scam was conducted, and they acknowledged that they knew
Ms. Timakova, but claimed that they were not aware of any illegal
activity originating from the apartment. They also denied having any
kind of business agreement with Ms. Timakova or received any money from
her. They insisted that Ms. Timakova was the real perpetrator of the
crime, and that she fabricated the story about their involvement to
The court found both men guilty. They were sentenced to 3 years in a
labor camp, and ordered to pay restitution to the victim.
Students Get Prison Terms for Internet Marriage Fraud (Oct 30, 06)
Alena Fedorovskaya and Vladimir Osipov, the creators of several fake
marriage and travel agencies, have been sentenced to 5 years, and 5
years and 6 months, respectively, on October 30th, 2006, by
Verkh-Istetskiy Court of Ekaterinburg, Russia.
Two students from the
Russian city of Yekaterinburg have been jailed for committing
matrimonial fraud with foreigners over the Internet, the Interfax news
agency reported on Monday.
One of the convicts, the 28-year-old woman, had sent out her pictures
to a number of international matrimonial agencies. After exchanging
letters with several men from the United States, Canada and Great
Britain the girl asked potential fiances to send her money so she could
travel to their countries and meet them in person. Upon receiving the
donations which amounted up to $3,000, the girl broke the
The court sentenced both to prison terms in a minimum-security
correctional labor facility. The girl was sentenced to 5 years and her
partner got a 5.5 year prison term.
Arrests in Yoshkar-Ola
More than a
hundred people were detained in the course of a special police
operation, which had been held on September 13, 2006
by the Federal Security Service Department of Mari El. The operation
was aimed at capturing the Internet scammers who posted introduction
profiles on different sites, portraying themselves as women who wanted
to get married to foreigners. In those profiles they used other
people's photos illegally. Such Mari "fiancees" regularly tapped money
from their men, motivating this with the necessity to learn English or
paying for the driving lessons.
According to the special services, this criminal business was built on
the following scheme. The organizers rented apartments in the quietest
districts of Yoshkar-Ola, turned them into small offices, equipping
them with satellite Internet access and 7 or 10 computers. The role of
"fiancees" corresponding with the foreigners were mostly played by the
students, who got 10 or 15% of the amount they managed to tap form the
In the result of the operation, the Federal Security Service
Departement discovered 10 apartments, also arrested 8 people suspected
as leaders of organized crime group. They are now placed in the
detention jail. Large amounts of money were seized.
The case in fraud was brought up in accord with clause 159 on the
Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The investigation is being
Canadian Helps Bust
A Canadian man
in love with an imaginary Russian woman has helped Yekaterinburg police
arrest a couple behind an Internet scam that cheated love-struck
foreigners out of thousands of dollars.
The Canadian citizen became worried about the bride-to-be he had met
through the web site after she wrote to say that all the money he had
sent her had been stolen by the Russian mafia, Yekaterinburg police
In fact, the bride was nothing but the criminal imagination of a local
couple, police spokesman Valery Gorelikh said by telephone Thursday.
The couple, which he refused to identify, ran a web site called Russian
Girls that had consisted entirely of photos of nonexistent would-be
The gullible would-be fiancees were scammed out of money through
letters asking for money from the fake women, as well as by a section
on the web site where the men could buy imaginary gifts for the
On hearing the
news about the voracious mafia, the Canadian, whom Gorelikh also
refused to identify, flew out to
help his would-be bride. He contacted the British consulate in
Yekaterinburg, who immediately sent him to the police. The police
traced the couple when they continued to write letters to the Canadian.
the couple would be charged with fraud under Article 159 of the
Criminal Code, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail.
Complaints about fraudulent Russian bride web sites are common. The
U.S. Embassy said last year that it was getting up to 10 calls per day
from men who had been duped.
The embassy directs the men to (not Jim's), a web site
that explains the various scams.
Another web site, (not Jim's,
either), has a list 15 pages long of women suspected
of having scammed foreign men, and offers a paid service for men to
check out the person they think they are communicating with.
rise in cases, there have been very few convictions.
American Scammer Gets 5 Years!
June 24, 2004
San Bernardino County man was sentenced to five years in federal prison
yesterday for cheating men out of more than $1 million in a Russian
The sentence was imposed from an April plea bargain in which Robert
McCoy, 40, of Rancho Cucamonga admitted defrauding more than 250 men
and agreed to pay back his victims $737,521. Prosecutors dropped other
charges. Investigators positively identified 352 victims, but there may
be more, said San Diego-based federal prosecutor Richard Cheng.
Anna Grountovaia, 32, McCoy's wife and the mother of his 2-year-old
daughter, was sentenced to three years probation after having served 11
months in jail. Grountovaia, a Russian who met McCoy through the
Internet before moving into his home, said she posed as a prospective
bride in telephone calls with some of the victims, including several
San Diego men. She pleaded guilty to fraud and may be deported. She met
him after the scam was already under way and didn't play a big part in
the scam, filling in when he needed a woman with a Russian accent, her
Most of the victims spoke with women in Russia, lawyer Timothy Scott
said in court papers.
McCoy is a drug-addicted felon who sports gang tattoos and has earlier
convictions on assault, kidnapping and weapons charges, according to
In court filings, prosecutor Cheng detailed the scheme this way:
McCoy met his victims through personal ads he placed or answered on Web
sites including America Online and Match.com.In each case, he wrote
e-mails posing as a Russian woman seeking love and sent pictures of a
pretty model.Eventually, a visit would be arranged, and the victim was
told a Russian dating service needed about $1,800 to pay for a visa and
plane tickets. On the day the victim was expecting the woman to arrive,
McCoy would write as an official from the fictitious dating service and
said there was a problem: A new regulation required the woman to carry
$1,500 cash to enter the United States.The service would lend her $500,
but the victim needed to wire an additional $1,000.The men learned they
were taken days later, when their e-mails were ignored or bounced back
because the accounts were closed.
The FBI began investigating the scam after a Baltimore man told a
London newspaper about the scheme.
McCoy regrets what he did and plans to use his prison time to get off
drugs, said his lawyer, Arthur Greenspan, who blamed the drug addiction
as a big reason for McCoy's behavior.
A Web site on Russian scams tells prospective suitors to beware any
woman who asks for money after an online meeting.
Australian fights back, with a president's help
January 4, 2004
Vladimir Putin has ordered the arrest of two alleged marriage agency
fraudsters after a Sydney man wrote to him, saying he had been conned
by a sexy young Russian brunette offering marriage over the internet.
Terry McCarthy, from Epping, was so outraged after allegedly being
ripped off that he wrote directly to Mr Putin, declaring it was a
matter of "Russian honour" that she be brought to justice. So touched
was the Kremlin leader by the carefully crafted letter, he ordered
police to track down the criminals, regardless of time or cost.
Investigations later revealed that the woman, part of a gang run by her
Russian husband, had allegedly extracted $US1.5 million ($2 million)
from as many as 1500 foreign men.
(Jim's comment - 1.5 MILLION
dollars!!! From 1500 men!!!!!)
Not only have the couple since been caught, they face between five and
10 years in prison if convicted on all charges. Moscow police sources
have confirmed that, on the basis of Mr McCarthy's letter, Mr Putin
personally ordered them to find the woman and her associates.
A spokesman said: "Had it not been for Mr McCarthy contacting the
President, there is no doubt they would have ripped off many more
foreign lonely heart men who are blinded by sexy internet pictures."
When Mr McCarthy, 48, learned of his letter's impact, he said: "I can't
believe it. When I wrote that letter, there was no way I ever imagined
it would actually arrive on the President's desk . . . or that he would
"I didn't do what I did for any glory. I wrote a lot of letters to a
lot of people . . . it was a way of getting what had happened off my
In 2000, Mr
McCarthy searched internet photos and profiles for a possible Russian
love match. A young, seductive brunette responded. They exchanged
letters and, at her request, he sent cash so she could book a romantic
trip to Australia to meet him.But she allegedly kept the money and he
never heard from her again.
The brains behind the apparent scam was identified as Yuri Lazarev, 34,
a photographer who took pictures of his wife, Anna, and other local
women and posted them on the internet. Anna went by the fake name of
Alfia Magdeeva, and she was the one Mr McCarthy fell for.
A police officer close to the investigation revealed that in most cases
"Alfia" allegedly snared victims by posing as a virgin, who wanted to
wait until she had met the right man. The other women Lazarev had taken
pictures of "had no idea they were being offered around the world as
marriage partners on the internet", he said."Nor did they know Lazarev
and his wife were writing back to love-struck foreigners asking for
money, in their names." But what the alleged scam artists failed to
account for was Mr McCarthy's determination to pursue the matter as far
up the Russian hierarchy as he could.
In his letter, he
told Mr Putin: "I recently had $US650 stolen from me by an immoral
cunning Russian woman, Alfia Magdeeva, who misrepresented herself on
the internet."I don't ever expect to see my money again, but I would be
grateful if you could make sure she declared this money as income
(which I doubt) and so paid tax on it."I would much rather see my money
going to the Russian Government to help the Russian people, than to
criminals on the internet who would happily bring discredit on their
country for personal gain."I have always admired the Russian people but
this incident sours that feeling," the Australian's letter added.
indication something was being done at an official level came in 2002
when Australian Federal Police contacted Mr McCarthy and interviewed
him on behalf of Moscow investigators. In September, Yuri and Anna
Lazarev were finally captured in Chelyabinsk, a bleak city in the
Russian Ural Mountains. Olga Pfefer, of Chelyabinsk police, said that
of the 1500 foreign men allegedly cheated out of money by the gang
between 2000 and 2002 they had found detailed biographical information
on about 70. But she added: "Mr McCarthy was one of only 10 who
provided police with full details so we could conduct the case against
A spokesman for Mr Putin's office said: "The complaint from Australia
to the President was regarded as serious. It was passed on to the
Russian Interior Ministry for the police to follow up in the correct
way." Mr McCarthy said he did not want to be perceived as "the wronged
naive loser who struck back" and neither did he want to see all Russian
women on the internet "unfairly stereotyped". He said: "There are
hundreds of Russian scammers on the internet but there are hundreds of
thousands of Russian women, along with millions of women from other
countries, with honest intentions and the usual dreams."
May 16, 2003, San
Diego Press Office...
Dating Scam Dismantled
Diego, California - John R. Kingston, Acting Special Agent in Charge,
San Diego Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, today
announces the arrests of two individuals on charges of Conspiracy and
L. McCoy, born January 8, 1964, and his wife, Anna V. Grountovaia, born
October 12, 1971, were arrested at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 13, 2003,
without incident at their home in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Their
arrest was pursuant to an indictment filed by a Federal Grand Jury for
operating a fraudulent Russian dating scheme via the Internet.
arrests marked the culmination of an investigation conducted by the
FBI, in coordination with the U. S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.
S. Secret Service, the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, the National
White Collar Crime Center, the Federal Trade Commission, and the
Department of Justice.
in January of 2002 by the FBI's Cyber Crime Squad in San Diego, the
investigation began after an individual reported he had been defrauded
over the Internet. The victim informed the FBI that he had been induced
to wire thousands of dollars to an agency which offered to expedite the
travel of a Russian woman he had developed a relationship with over the
indictment alleges that McCoy and Grountavaia posed as Russian women
under various names and posted on-line ads seeking a serious
relationship with men. At times, McCoy and Grountavaia would also
respond to on-line ads of other men in order to induce them into
developing on-line relationships. After the initial contact was
established, McCoy and Grountavaia would then send e-mails and contact
the victims by telephone to entice the victims into wiring monies to
these communications, the indictment alleges that McCoy and
Grountavaia, posing as a Russian woman, would claim to belong to an
'agency' that could help facilitate a visit to the victim's home
country. Under the guise of this Russian agency, the indictment further
alleges that McCoy and Grountavaia sent additional e-mails to the
victims, instructing them to wire sums ranging from $1,790 to $1,850,
so the agency could process flight arrangements, obtain visas, and
secure placements for the Russian woman in student exchange programs.
After the victims wired the money, believing the Russian woman would
soon arrive, McCoy and Grountavaia would then cease all contact with
processing at the FBI Building in San Diego, California, both McCoy and
Grountavaia were arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge Louisa
S. Porter on Tuesday, May 13, 2003. The case has been assigned to
United States District Court Judge John S. Rhodes for trial.
convicted, McCoy and Grountavaia face a maximum penalty of five years
incarceration and a $250,000 fine on charges of Conspiracy to Commit
Wire Fraud and twenty years incarceration and another $250,000 fine on
the charges of Wire Fraud.
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