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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ad Blitz Puts Police on Retailer's Trail




A popular winter clothing store that ran an aggressive advertising campaign last month trumpeting its rock-bottom prices found out this week that it caught the attention of more than just customers.


The dirt-cheap bargains at Snezhnaya Koroleva, or Snow Queen, sparked the interest of the economic crimes division of the Moscow police.


A raid Wednesday of the store in northwest Moscow found that the deals were too good to be true. The owners were apparently able to offer steep discounts because they were not paying their taxes.


Police discovered that the company was either missing invoices or had ones issued by fictitious companies, an officer involved in the investigation said. They seized 120 million rubles ($5 million) worth of merchandise and closed up the shop.


Snezhnaya Koroleva launched a widely seen ad drive this winter with artists from the well-known television comedy show "OSP-Studio" on TV-6. Multiple ads aired every night for several months this winter, boasting that Snezhnaya Koroleva had the lowest prices on winter clothes.


Amazingly, the advertising campaign appears to have played a role in the police raid this week. "But sometimes we investigate anonymous reports," added Sergei Dogzhenkov, a public relations official with the economic crimes division.


"We conducted a checkup as planned," said another officer at the district police office.


Snezhnaya Koroleva and "OSP-Studio" officials refused to comment.


The front doors to Snezhnaya Koroleva were closed Friday and a guard refused to let non-employees enter the shop.


A small group of rival competitors gathered around the shop to rake in extra sales from customers disappointed to find Snezhnaya Koroleva closed.


"We are conducting an inventory checkup," the guard said. "This is a large shop and we cannot say when it will be over."


Police said that they are continuing to investigate the shop and refused to speculate whether any criminal charges will be brought against its owners, the Shine Plus company. Police refused to reveal the heads of the firm.


One attorney, who did not want to be identified, said that sometimes in cases of this sort the owner prefers to hand over his goods to the police to prevent the matter from going to court. But such a scenario is unlikely for Snezhnaya Koroleva.


Russian media have been eating up the case, and the attention means the police will not be able to let the matter die, he said.