A gang in St. Petersburg posing as police officers has extorted thousands of dollars from men looking to have sex with boys after setting up meetings using fake social media accounts, a news report said Tuesday.
The gang members used fake identification, handcuffs and forged police letterhead in addition to creating a fake news report about one of their members being granted an award by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev for the fight against pedophilia, Fontanka.ru reported.
The gang is led by a man named Roma who has previously served jail time for fraud, the report said.
In the last year the gang has reportedly monetized 30 "sting" operations against potential pedophiles, a tactic which became infamous after the harassment tactics of the anti-gay vigilante group Occupy Pedophilia were widely reported in the media.
Unlike Occupy Pedophilia, which has published videos of its members forcing the gay men they hope to "cure" to drink urine, the St. Petersburg group appears to be mostly interested in money. After hinting that the incident could come to the attention of the press and lawmakers like conservative St. Petersburg deputy Vitaly Milonov, the fake plain clothes police take cash worth $1,000 to $30,000 from their victims in exchanging for "not opening a criminal case."
The report said that the gang members are confident that none of the videos' victims will complain to the police, even if they find out that their assailants weren't real police officers.