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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Suspected Con Man Nabbed by City Police




City police have arrested a man they suspect has cheated "quite a few" of Moscow's antiques collectors out of their valuables, officials said Friday.


Oleg Kozin, 45, was charged earlier this week with stealing two 19th-century paintings and a silver chess set from a Moscow collector late last year, said Kirill Murzin, spokesman for the Moscow police force's criminal investigation department.


"We don't know how, but Kozin managed to maintain the reputation of a successful middleman while regularly cheating" Moscow collectors, Murzin said.


Kozin got hold of the two paintings, titled "Country Landscape" and "Cavalry Assault," and the chess set by telling the owner that he had found a potential customer - the national arms exporter Ros-vooruzheniye, which he claimed was ready to pay a total of $13,000 for them, the police spokesman said.


He took the collector to one of Rosvooruzheniye's downtown offices Dec. 8 and asked him to wait outside while he completed the deal himself, according to Murzin.


Kozin then took the three objects and headed toward the office on Pyatnitskaya Ulitsa. "Of course, he just hitched a car and vanished after that," Murzin said.


After waiting for his middleman for four hours, the frustrated antique collector reported the theft to police.


A few days later, detectives learned that someone did buy the Country Landscape, although it was not a Rosvooruzheniye official. Through the buyer, police tracked down Kozin's address on Turistskaya Ulitsa, but he was no where to be found.


Soon enough, however, the detectives were tipped that Kozin had checked into Moscow's Izmailovo hotel. He offered no resistance when detectives entered his room Jan. 13.


"Con men are usually very intelligent and therefore understand that it makes no sense to resist," Murzin said.


The other painting was found in his hotel room, and the chess set had been sold to a hotel security guard, who returned it to police, the spokesman said.


Murzin said Kozin has confessed to cheating the owner of the three items, and could spend up to 10 years in prison if convicted.


Police suspect Kozin swindled the Moscow owner of a 19th century silver jewelry box and have reason to believe he "has ripped off quite a few collectors," the spokesman said.


But Kozin has maintained his innocence in all other cases, Murzin said.Police believe many of his alleged victims have not reported being swindled to avoid questions about how they acquired their antiques, Murzin said.