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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Go After Sherlock Holmes

City Crime Statistics
Nov. 24 - Nov. 30
Theft (total)880282
Apartment burglaries19024
Car theft5214
For the Record
Car accidents92
    a) killed8
    b) injured97
Missing persons55
Bodies discovered104
Source: Moscow police

Police have arrested seven people, including three former employees of No. 2 mobile operator VimpelCom, on suspicion of illegally selling information about the calling habits of cellphone users on a web site featuring an image of Sherlock Holmes.

The Interior Ministry's high-tech crimes department and VimpelCom, operator of the BeeLine brand, said the suspects are believed to have offered detailed information about cellphone calls made by clients of the three main providers, BeeLine, Mobile TeleSystems and MegaFon, via the web site For $500, the web site promised to pass over which numbers were called and the length of the conversations.

VimpelCom received a tip in June that information from its databases was being offered on the site and promptly contacted the Interior Ministry, VimpelCom spokeswoman Yulia Ostroukhova said Wednesday.

The Interior Ministry and VimpelCom announced the arrests Friday.

The Interior Ministry's "K" department, which handles high-tech crimes and is investigating the case, could not be reached for comment, but Vedomosti, citing the department's spokespeople, reported that the main suspect was apprehended on Oct. 18 near the Kropotkinskaya metro station in central Moscow.

Further information was unavailable about the man, whose identity, like those of the other suspects, is not being released pending the investigation.

The man is facing charges of illegally disclosing information and, if convicted, faces five years in prison, Vedomosti said.

Ostroukhova said three suspects are former VimpelCom employees who worked in the company's code center, which tracks and organizes data relating to subscribers' calls.

"One of them has not worked for us for a long time," she said, though she could not say when he left the company. "The other two were our employees until the investigation began, and then they were let go."

Citing a source close to the investigation, Vedomosti said the web site was created by a former Moscow State University student who never worked for VimpelCom.

MTS spokesman Pavel Nefedov said his company found out earlier this year that was offering information about MTS subscribers, but MTS's security department was unable to purchase data covertly from the web site. "We were never able to get in contact with them, so we figured that they were just running a scam where they offer information, collect the money and then disappear," Nefedov said. "After we determined it was just a scam, we decided not to take any action." was down earlier this week but was back up Wednesday, complete with a Sherlock Holmes silhouette logo. Under the "Exclusive" section, it was offering services including "private detectives," "spies," and the gathering of information on cheating spouses. No price list was given, but a note indicated that the cost would decided on in "a tentative agreement."

"We're ready for cooperation!" the note said.