At least seven Russian nationals have been indicted in the United States on suspicion of money laundering and conspiracy to commit fraud for running a fake car dealership and collecting $4.5 million from unsuspecting victims.
The Russian Consulate in New York said Monday that the FBI had detained four of the seven Russians on charges of duping victims into paying deposits on cars they never received and then creating shell companies to launder the money out of the U.S.
The Russians were part of a group of 25 nationals from the former Soviet Union accused of posing as dealers claiming to sell classic cars online between November 2016 through July 2018.
“The co-conspirators then sent the fraud proceeds outside the United States to Eastern European countries, from where many of the conspirators originated,” the indictment reads.
The Russian Embassy said Monday it had asked the State Department to provide information on the whereabouts of the Russian citizens, and was working to establish direct contact.
The defendants face up to 50 years behind bars on combined charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.