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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Consumer Loans Scam Busted by Moscow Cops

People are borrowing record amounts of money to pay for more creature comforts, and police blotters across the country make clear that criminals have taken note of this consumer trend.

City police have arrested and charged six men with conning banks into approving some $500,000 in consumer loans by creating phony legends for clients who were unlikely to qualify for credit.

The six suspects, who were arrested last week, ran a company based in northwest Moscow that placed ads in newspapers and on the Internet that promised to assist clients in obtaining consumer bank loans, said Filipp Zolotnitsky, spokesman for the city police's economic crimes department.

"The scam artists would create false legends for clients about where they worked, how much they earned and who their references were," Zolotnitsky said. "That false information would then be confirmed by someone who answered the telephone numbers listed in the documents."

Police picked up on the scam when a client tried to pass off falsified documents in a loan application at a local Sberbank branch, Zolotnitsky said.

Zolotnitsky declined to name the suspects or their company, citing the ongoing investigation. He said police were still trying to establish how many banks had been victimized by the scam.

The six suspects, as well as two of their clients, have been charged with fraud and could face up to six years in prison if convicted.

"Of course the clients knew that they were defrauding the bank," Zolotnitsky said.

The company's cut for its services was 30 percent of the loans, he said.

Zolotnitsky said police had found dozens of mobile phones at the company's office that were used to receive phone calls from inquisitive loan officers. Stickers were attached to each of the phones that listed the fictitious companies -- and their fictitious employees -- assigned to that phone.

Also found in the search were dozens of official-looking blue stamps -- those ever-crucial tools that render documents legal -- for the fictitious companies.

In other credit fraud news, investigators in the Urals Federal District have arrested seven men suspected of stealing 10 million rubles from Russky Standart Bank clients in the Tyumen, Omsk and Kurgan regions.

Investigators said the suspects had used accomplices working in post offices and Russky Standart branches to intercept credit cards mailed out by the bank to clients and open credit lines of 40,000 rubles.

After activating the cards, the suspects then used them to withdraw cash from ATMs, prosecutors said. About 200 people were victimized in the scam, they said.