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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Swindlers Use Merloni Name to Con Public

Managers of Italian durable goods producer Merloni said Friday their firm has been had -- along with some Moscow residents whom swindlers cheated out of their money by using the company's good name.

"This is a very, very big problem for us, because we have invested a lot of money into the image of the Merloni group," Carlo Pagan, Merloni's marketing and business development director, told journalists Friday.

Eight people have called the company in the last two weeks after being approached by door-to-door salesmen claiming the residents had won a $750 Ariston washing machine -- one of the durables Merloni imports into Russia.

As a pre-condition of receiving the washing machine, the hoodwinked victims were each asked to pay 300 rubles -- either for an additional set of small goods or for delivery of their "prize," officials said.

One of the victims, Vasily Kostin, 81, said he paid 300 rubles ($48) to a well-dressed, smooth-talking stranger on the understanding that the money was for transportation of the machine. When there was no delivery the next day, Kostin said he'd been cheated and called Merloni.

"I felt it would be important to catch a saboteur working under the cover of the brand," the man said, adding wryly; "This was my little contribution to the development of commercial business."