Five men from the Russian republic of Mari El have been detained by the police after they were caught pretending to be women on online dating websites and stealing $40,000 from potential Chinese suitors.
According to the Interior Ministry, the five men created profiles online and corresponded with foreigners, posing as Russian girls. When the victims sent money to the "girls," the communication instantly stopped.
"The lengthy internet conversation eventually got to the point when the gentlemen expressed their desire to invite the interlocutor to their country, to get married and live together," Police Lieutenant Colonel Mikhail Ignatyev explained. "At the same time, the gentlemen agreed to pay for travel and other expenses. After the money was received, communication with the victims was terminated."
The men were detained in Cheboksary, a city around 500 kilometers east of Moscow. According to the police, three identified victims were men between 42 and 56 years old living in the cities of Wuhan, Xining, and Ganzhou. In total, the Russians stole about three million rubles ($40,000) from them.
The police discovered the scam after law enforcement operatives came to check an apartment for usage of illegal substances. Once inside, they saw a scene resembling a call center with multiple laptops, mobile phones, and bank cards. The investigative team then discovered that it was rented by five residents of Mari El, who used the apartment to extort money from foreigners.
All five of the men have been charged with fraud.