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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

COMPUTER BUSINESS: Conman Implicates IT Firm in Investor Scam




At first sight I'm sure you would think that Kamol Kakkharovich Ruzikulov has it made.


The representative of at least two multi-national companies in the CIS, he has negotiated contracts worth over $800 million in the space of two months.


The man must ooze confidence. He is said to wear a sharp suit, carry an expensive brief case and affects an expensive manner. He certainly has nerve.


Mr. Ruzikulov apparently makes his money by borrowing a corporate identity and then negotiating huge "investment" projects with nonexistent money.


But to add a touch of authenticity to his stories he also uses the genuine addresses of foreign companies.


I've never met Mr. Ruzikulov, but I feel that I've got to know him pretty well over the last two weeks. Since the beginning of this year he has been constructing a scam in which we have unwittingly found ourselves a part.


Sometime in May he disappeared and people from two former Soviet republics have started looking for him.


At least one of the corporate identities he has borrowed was that of my company.


Using a faked power of attorney, or doverennost, he persuaded ministers, factory chiefs and other bureaucrats that he was going to organize huge investment projects in their countries.


Now they are calling here to find out what has happened to the money.


It takes a while to get through to these callers that IDC is not in the business of making investments and is a market research firm that counts computers.


Even when you think that you have explained everything and that you have been understood, there still lurks a sense of doubt in their voices.


In most cases, however, they seem to have taken the news rather well.


There was only one caller who refused to believe that International Investment Corporation IDC did not exist and appeared to believe that Ruzikulov may be hiding here in our offices.


Just how much Mr. Ruzikulov has made out of his stint as freelance investor of other people's money is not clear - in most cases the individuals who have contacted us claim that they have not given him any money.


However, I strongly suspect that there is a sting in each of these sham contract negotiations - probably in some "unwritten" sections of these contracts.


What we do know is that he has generated plenty of paperwork. This has included contracts to finance the building of a chemical plant, a bridge and an extension to a hotel.


He has also promised at least one unwitting factory that he will deliver $2 million worth of medical supplies for free as humanitarian aid.


What has struck me most about this episode was the credulous reception that he has apparently received throughout his travels.


His victims really believed that he had enormous sums of money that he was planning to invest without any obvious return.


In these documents it appears that large Western companies treat a million dollars like a collection of kopek coins accumulated in a coat pocket.


Out there on the fringes of the former Soviet Union clearly people still believe - or at least want to believe - in miracles.


Robert Farish is research director at IDC Russia. E-mail: farish@online.ru