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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

2 Arrested in $3.4M Police Scam

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of posing as police officers to extort 2.5 million euros ($3.4 million) from a local businessman in exchange for dropping a fictitious criminal investigation against him.

The suspects, Alexander Falkovsky and Maxim Zhiznin, approached the businessman earlier this year and, having introduced themselves as police officers, told him police were conducting a "secret investigation" and that his arrest was imminent, city police spokesman Filipp Zolotnitksy said Tuesday, Interfax reported.

The suspects told the businessman, however, that the investigation could be shut down in exchange for 2.5 million euros ($3.4 million), Zolotnitsky said.

The suspects' cover was blown when the businessman inquired at his local police station as to whether he was being investigated for anything, Zolotnitsky told Interfax. The background check revealed they had no connection whatsoever to authorities, prompting police to arrange a sting operation.

Falkovsky was arrested after accepting a down payment of 550,000 euros ($750,862) from the businessman last month on Avtozavodskaya Ulitsa in southern Moscow, Zolotnitsky said.

Zhiznin was arrested days later in his office on Zubovsky Bulvar, near the Park Kultury metro station in central Moscow, he said.

They have been charged with large-scale fraud and could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Police are currently investigating whether there are other victims who actually parted with their cash. Investigators found 700,000 euros in cash during a search of one of the suspects' apartments, Zolotnitsky said.

The suspects could not explain where the money came from, he said.

This particular scam is not uncommon, city police said in a statement Tuesday.

"If certain detectives tell you that a case is being prepared against you and demand money to drop it -- they are fraudsters," the statement said.