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MOSCOW, March 6 (Itar-Tass) — Police in Moscow detained a criminal group, which cheated elderly people out of 100 million roubles under the pretence of paying compensations for inferior quality biological additives. The fraudsters' victims were pensioners, war veterans and disabled veterans who lived in various Russian regions," the press service of city policy told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.
"The operation to expose and detain the wrongdoers was carried out by agents of the city department for economic security and combating corruption, assisted by special task for police.
"Police ascertained that the office from which the fraudsters operated was located in Moscow's Litovsky Avenue. Police detained 21 persons, including the mastermind, Maria Kovbas.
"The exposed group operated for two years. It collected over 100 million roubles. This is a preliminary estimate, and detectives believe the number of injured parties is far larger," a police officer said.
According to the press service, a court sanctioned the arrest of 14 detainees. Seven of them, who admitted their wrongdoing, were released on recognizance.
It has been ascertained that personnel of commercial medical centers helped the group leader obtain access to databases of patients, and the persons who had purchased biological additives.
They phoned elderly people, introducing themselves as employees of Russian courts, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Ropotrebnadzor consumer watchdog agency and the Savings Bank. They told them that the criminals who sold low quality biological additives had been detained that that their victims were entitled to compensations from the budget.
"To receive the compensation, elderly people had to pay 10 to 15 percent of the sum of payment as insurance fee, tax payments or the expenses related to bringing the money to injured parties The money had to be transferred to personal accounts at various banks or through various payment systems," police said.
Injured parties from Murmansk, Yekaterinburg, Novosibisk, St Petersburg and other citizens reported these facts to police.
In the course of searches at the fraudsters' office and in their apartments, police found large sums of money, credit cards, the lists of injured parties who earlier had purchased biological additives, and a database of victims.
Criminal proceedings against the detainees were opened under Crimean Code article on "fraud committed by an organized group in "especially large amount." It is punishable by up to ten years in jail and an up to one-million-rouble fine.