RUSSIAN DOLL MAFIA SEX SCAM TARGETS UK MEN
It was only small amounts at first – £100 for a visa – but alarm bells started ringing. People less streetwise than myself may have been more drawn in
THE Russian Mafia is fleecing British men out of millions of pounds in a money-spinning romance fraud.
Mobsters use sexy girls to trap randy victims online by sending them pictures, videos and raunchy messages before bleeding them dry.
The Daily Star Sunday today exposes the scam now on the radar of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency.
Our investigators were tipped off after gangsters targeted a wealthy British businessman last summer.
A 30-year-old blonde bombshell calling herself Anna Ivanova contacted Charlie Pycraft, a broker at a leading London art gallery in July.
She started with friendly emails but talk soon turned to money and sex.
Our investigators discovered that Anna works for a Russian gang in the former Soviet republic of Mari El. She invents internet dating profiles, writes steamy letters and collects fraudulently obtained money transfers from Western Union offices to earn commission from her ruthless mob controllers.
Charlie, 44, said: “It started about five months ago during the summer of 2012 because they thought my business was doing well.
“She sent me pictures of everyday things and of her in her flat.
“There were even videos on YouTube and it all looked kosher.”
Within two months, Anna was sending Charlie explicit messages and revealing photographs.
The stakes were raised when the beauty claimed her grandmother had died.
She sent pictures of the funeral as ‘proof’, and claimed a condition of her £70,000 inheritance was that she had to get married.
Anna said that she would like to fly to the UK.
Charlie said: “It was only small amounts at first – £100 for a visa – but alarm bells started ringing. People less streetwise than myself may have been more drawn in.”
Leading anti-fraud group Romance Scams said 1,200 of its members had lost £10million to gangs.
The UK Government’s Action Fraud identified 592 victims, with 203 people losing more than £5,000.
SOCA said Britons had lost as much as £240,000 in similar scams.
A spokesman said: “Millions of people in the UK remain at risk of being successfully targeted by crime groups committing this type of fraud.”