While Russia’s elite is apparently busy buying billions of dollars in cryptocurrency, some other Russians decided to try and get theirs the old-fashioned way—stealing it. Making the situation more embarrassing, the activity was reportedly led by a number of individuals working for the country’s FSB, its national secret service agency.
As reported by coinspot.io, the secret police reportedly offered to help keep a media mogul out of jail, provided his family made a payment of $1.02 million in Bitcoin Core (BTC). The mogul is the former CEO of the Izvestiya publishing house, Erast Galumov, who is wanted for alleged fraud involving $670,000. Up to 15 members of the FSB conspired to set up the deal, which would have allowed Galumov to avoid prison in exchange for the payment.
The FSB members, who were responsible for investigating crimes related to IT, created a fictitious identity to threaten Galumov’s family. They promised his freedom and his family’s safety in return for the payment.
The scam was reportedly overseen by two FSB agents, one of whom has the last name of Kolbov, and who went by Mikhail for the ruse. On one occasion, he apparently told Galumov’s son that he should leave Russia in order to avoid “doing time for his father.”
The family agreed to make the payments but the crooks didn’t know that they were being set up. A sting operation was under way to determine who was involved. Once enough information was gathered, Kolbov and another agent, Sergey Belousov, were arrested. Belousov was the head of the investigations department where Kolbov was employed and was in charge of the Galumov investigation. There were no details on the fate of the other 12 individuals.
Galumov remains behind bars and will have to answer for his alleged crimes in a separate case. However, given that Belousov was in charge of the investigation that led to his arrest last year, he could have a strong argument to have the entire case thrown out. He could argue that Belousov had set him up in order to launch the bribe scheme and at least buy some time as options are considered by the courts.
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