Court convicts swindlers who stole 400 million rubles from Sberbank of Russia clients
Seven gang members received lenient sentences. May we remind you that the gang had been stealing money from Sberbank of Russia clients for 7 years. There even were the bank employees in the gang. The Leninsky District Court, St Petersburg sentenced the criminals to 5-9 years in prison. It is worth mentioning some of them received suspended sentences.
Members of the gang that stole 400 million rubles from Sberbank of Russia clients were prosecuted in St Petersburg. The criminals operated in St Petersburg and Buryatia, as well as in the Tver and the Moscow Regions, from 2011 to 2012, according to investigators.
The criminals used a pretty simple plan. Aleksey Lapin, one of the gang members, who used to work in the bank, would generously give private customer information away to his accomplices. The only thing left for criminals to do was to use their imagination a little bit at this point. They used fake powers of attorney to transfer victims’ money to accounts of friendly companies, or alternatively they could use the bank’s official mobile application and online banking. The criminals could submit false requests to mobile network operators, too. They would then use fake passports and other documents to request new SIM chips for selected numbers pretending to have lost “their” phones. The criminals simply transferred money to their accounts once they received passwords. They committed the total of 35 criminal acts.
The robbed people bombarded the bank with letters letting it know their money had disappeared, as you might expect. Criminal investigators managed to arrest 5 gang members in 2012. A criminal case was opened against them. Mikhail Turkin, an entrepreneur, was one among the five men. It was his company that accumulated the majority of the stolen money on its bank accounts.
The criminals are accused of 14 swindles, 17 instances of illegal receipt and disclosure of information classified as a banking secret, and 4 instances of document forgery.
The investigators accused the criminals of breaking part 4 Art. 159, part 4 (Swindling Committed by an Organized Group on an Especially Large Scale), part 3 Art. 183 (Illegal Receipt and Disclosure of Information Classified as a Commercial, Tax or Banking Secret), part 2 Art. 327 (Knowing Utilization of Forged Marks of Excise Tax, Special Marks or Marks of Conformance, all Forgery-Proof) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.
It was not hard catching the remaining gang members, although it did take a lot of time. Especially since Mikhail Turkin decided to accept a plea bargain after giving it a second thought. He gave detailed testimony on other gang members. That is why his case was considered separately, according to the prejudice law. Court hearings lasted for 2 years. It was transferred to the Leninsky District Court as a result.
It is worth mentioning that the criminal cases were very controversial because of the amount of money stolen. That is why the sentence had to be approved by one of the deputies of Yuri Chaika, the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, and the case itself was considered by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation. The following people ended up being accused: Aleksandr Gorbachev, Oleg Shved, Aleksandr Komarov, David Pogosyan, Aleksey Ezersky, Mikhail Semenenko, and Aleksey Lapin, a former employee of the bank.
The investigation went on for almost 2 years. The case was heard in camera upon a petition of the trial participants. This is not that long really for such a case, considering the number of defendants, case volumes, and crimes committed. The court has just recently convicted 7 out of the 11 defendants (3 criminals are still on the federal wanted list).
Aleksandr Gorbachev, the informal gang leader, was sentenced to 9 years in medium-security prison, more than any other gang member. The court found him guilty of all the instances of theft and illegal receipt and disclosure of information classified as a banking secret. Andrey Lapin, a former employee of the bank, was sentenced to 6.5 years in medium-security prison. Oleg Shved received the same sentence.
The rest of the defendants – Komarov, Semenenko, Pogosyan, and Ezersky – received 3 to 4-year suspended sentences with 5-year probation periods. It is worth mentioning the court did not impose any other additional punishment on them, not even a penalty. The men also were not found guilty of document forgery. The court decided they were either “not involved with the crime” or their actions did not have “elements of a crime”.
Mikhail Turkin was sentenced to 3 years in medium-security prison. Other criminals are still under investigation. It seems like some of the 3 men who are yet to be caught specialized in document forgery and online swindling. It is worth mentioning that neither the court verdict nor official news releases or statements mentioned whether the stolen money was returned to the victims. It is also unknown whether the bank itself filed a law suit against the defendants demanding to return the money.
Unfortunately, this story is not the only one of its kind in the city. Crimerussia.ru has previously published articles on the Primorky District Court’s ongoing trial of a gang of 17 skimmers (there were 24 members in the gang, but others are yet to be caught). They stole 6 million rubles from ATMs. It is worth mentioning that police had to put a lot of effort in order to catch the criminals.
The following people are accused of breaking Article 158, parts 1 and 2, as well as part 4, item “a” of the Code (Theft Committed on a Large Scale): Petr Bogachev, Zaal Iashvily, Oleg Shchegolev, Artur Mazuruk, Oleg Romanyuk, Mikhail Predkov, Vladimir Kalinenko, Vladimir Golubev, Yuri Gurzhos, Fedor Gusarev, Mikhail Bulakh, Petr Arlashkin, German Arutyunov, Maksim Anosov, and Dmitry Shunkov. Ilya Sterligov and Petr Baydak are accused of breaking Article 210 of the Code (Creation of a Criminal Community (Criminal Organization) and Participation Therein).
The bank’s Security Department helped police to arrest 105 criminals, who attempted theft of bank or its clients’ property. 40 of them were arrested at the crime scene; 65 – as a result of investigations. Moreover, it helped to stop 26 gangs from operating.
A trial on the large scale theft began in the same Court in 2016. It is a skimmer gang, who are on trial again. Kamo Voskanyan, Oleg Shchegolev, Evgeny Mikhaylov, Yakov Plotkin, and Maksim Anosov, the gang members, are accused of planting skimmers on ATMs located in shopping malls. They stole service information that got recorded on magnetic strip and payment cards access passwords. They managed to steal 500,000 rubles before they were caught.
Bank employees do not like speaking about internal investigations, let alone tell tales out of school. However, banking rumor has it that bank employees are often involved with theft. Yet another former employee of the bank was convicted of bribe giving this summer. She contacted her former colleague working in the bank and offered him a bribe for issuing payment cards to certain people without them being present. The colleague did not want to go to jail and reported her to the Security Department. But bank employees know such cases are only a drop in the ocean. The true scope of swindling remains behind the curtain.