A concert promoter is suspected of paying Russian show business stars with counterfeit 1,000 ruble notes, Moscow police said Monday.
A 29-year-old native of the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia and a 37-year-old native of Kazakhstan were detained by police in a sting operation in which undercover police officers agreed to buy 100,000 rubles in fake bills in exchange for 60,000 real rubles, police said.
Nine fake bills were found in the possession of the suspects during their arrest, and another 66,000 counterfeit notes were found in one of the suspect's homes.
"The seized counterfeit notes do not match the State Mint's pattern," police said in a statement. "However, the bills are of high quality, so it was impossible to recognize the fraud with the naked eye."
One of the two suspects is a producer and organizer of concerts featuring Russian stars and is suspected of paying them with fake bills, the police said, without identifying which suspect or any of the stars. Police said the suspect may have made numerous payments to the show business stars with the fake money.
Both suspects are in police custody and face counterfeiting charges, which carry a prison term of up to eight years and a fine of 1 million rubles ($32,000).