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MOSCOW, March 21 (Itar-Tass) – Agents of the Interior Ministry's main department for economic security and combating corruption jointly with the military intelligence department of the Federal Security Service detained a group suspected of stealing more than 150 municipal apartments in the Moscow region.
"The group was led by a former serviceman from the Defense Ministry. Police opened 14 criminal cases over grand fraud. The criminals arranged for dummy persons to receive apartments, by forging instructions of the defense ministry official in charge of service housing. The group operated for three years and included lawyers and real estate agents," the press service of the Interior Ministry told Tass on Thursday.
The scheme comprised several stages. After obtaining the orders to allocate apartments to dummy persons, the swindlers forged contacts of lease with district housing departments.
Next, they asked to privatize the apartments on the strength of these documents and received genuine certificates. The apartments then were sold at market prices. The former "owners" of the apartments were paid a certain interest on each transaction for the use of their personal data.
More than ten searches were conducted at the suspects' apartments and offices. Police seized seals, stamps and letter-heads signed by officials from the Defense Ministry and Federal Registration Service.
"The organizers and a majority of group members have been detained. A court will consider their arrest. The operation to detain other members of the group and check the gang for involvement in other crimes is continuing. Police will ascertain if similar schemes were used in other regions," the press service said.