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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ring Leaders Nabbed in $2.7M Service Scam

City police and military counterintelligence have arrested and charged a lecturer at an elite Defense Ministry academy and a senior civilian official on suspicion of trying to scam the state out of $2.7 million in compensation for fictitious services in counterterrorism operations, police said Wednesday.

Authorities arrested the six suspects over the past two weeks after convicted apartment burglar Alexei Shpak submitted forged documents to the Interior Ministry's finance department demanding 71 million rubles in compensation for 71 servicemen who supposedly participated in counterterrorism operations in the North Caucasus, police spokesman Filip Zolotnitsky said in a statement.

Authorities, having been tipped off to the scam, arrested Shpak after he signed documents to receive the money, Zolotnitsky said, Interfax reported.

Police then proceeded to arrest Shpak's five alleged conspirators, including Colonel Shamil Kuchukov, a lecturer in strategy at the elite Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, and a senior federal servant whose name is not being released, Zolotnitsky said.

Investigators charge that the suspects forged decisions from a Rostov-on-Don military court ordering immediate compensation for the servicemen, as well as documents showing they had given Shpak power of attorney, Zolotnitsky said.

In Soviet times, shpak was a derogatory term used in military circles to describe civilians.

If convicted of fraud, the suspects could face up to three years in prison.