Wife of Russian millionaire defrauded of 52 apartments in Miami worth $8 million
Retired Filippov spouses residing in Irkutsk decided to invest their savings of unknown origin into American real estate. For that purpose, they have transferred to their daughter Natalia Mogilevskaya $8 million in 7 years. But later it turned out that all their acquisitions belong not to the retirees – and not even to Natalia – but to Ilia Mogilevsky, son-in-law of the Filippov family. He has forged his wife’s signatures and then divorced her. Currently Ilia is charged in the U.S. not only with fraud, but also with racketeering and inappropriate use of Donald Trump’s name.
In the early 2000s, a young family from Russia decided to part from native shore and relocate to the U.S. Natalia and Ilia Mogilevsky have settled in West Palm Beach – an upscale suburb of Miami. Parents of the husband, who have been living abroad for a long while, helped the new Americans of Russian origin to settle in. Ilia launched a business – but with no success. By 2010, Mogilevsky was declared bankrupt; his indebtedness amounted to some $1 million. But then the situation has drastically changed. Once-unsuccessful businessman started purchasing elite real estate throughout South Florida. His operations were under the radar for a while – but then one of the acquisitions attracted the attention of the American media. A Miami Herald journalist found it cynical that a businessman of Russian origin has purchased an apartment in one of the three Trump Towers.
Mogilevsky purchased a 12th-floor apartment at 15811 Collins Avenue, Palm Beach Gardens, FL for $1.1 million. All the three towers of this luxury residential complex are located on the shore – on the first line of Sunny Isles Beach, and Donald Trump was personally involved into that project.
The Miami Herald journalist was outraged by the name of the company established by Mogilevsky to buy an apartment in the third Trump Tower – Trump Real Estate Investments LLC. Jose Lambiet considered such an impudent usage of the President’s name inappropriate – especially amid the ongoing investigation of the Kremlin’s alleged intervention into the Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign. The company created by Mogilevsky had nothing to do with the American President.
Mogilevsky refused to explain the media his decision to use the name of Donald Trump to purchase luxury real estate. Instead, lawyer Les Evans representing the businessman has contacted the journalists. Evans is considered a real estate guru in Palm Beach. According to him, there is nothing illegal in using the President’s name. It is not a registered trademark, and anyone may add the word “Trump” to the name of his/her company. These explanations have barely calmed down the public stir though.
Shortly after that, the Russian native found himself in the middle of another, even more high-profile, scandal. In January 2017, Palm Beach Daily News wrote that Ilia is not a businessman, but just a racketeer. The journalists found out that 40-year-old Mogilevsky has acquired all his luxury properties not on hardly-earned dollars – but on the money belonging to his mother-in-law Tamara Filippova residing far, far away in Siberia. In a few years, the son-in-law has defrauded the retired Irkutsk lady of $8 million. In order to create his own real estate empire in the U.S. at her expense, Mogilevsky has registered several dozens of companies since 2010.
In late January 2017, Tamara Filippova has filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. to prosecute Mogilevsky for fraud. The 158-page suit claims that Mogilevsky is a seasoned scammer and repeated offender specializing in real estate frauds. Not only the Irkutsk retiree, but a number of other persons as well have lost millions of dollars due to his actions. Her attorneys asked the court to prohibit the businessman from accessing the numerous disputed real properties in Palm Beach County and South Florida.
The lawsuit also claims that Mogilevsky has trespassed against the federal Civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). This law has been adopted in 1970 to combat the organized crime. It stipulates severe punishments for the usage of proceeds of racketeering, underground gambling establishments, bookmaking, and other illegal activities. Under this law, racketeers face up to 20 years behind bars or life in prison.
Ilia Mogilevsky is named a racketeer in the U.S.
The suit also claims that Mogilevsky or his corporations have defaulted on several mortgages, both before and after he started using his mother-in-law’s money, which caused American banks to lose tens of thousands of dollars.
Gary Rosen, one of the most high-paid lawyers in New York, represents Tamara Filippova in the federal court. He said that he intends to forward his findings to the U.S. Attorney for possible criminal investigations against Mogilevsky. Rosen has provided details of the fraud scheme. According to him, Tamara Filippova, whose husband had been a very successful businessman, and who visits the United States every few years, has been persuaded to invest in American properties. According to the original agreement, Filippova would wire money to her American bank accounts from her home in Irkutsk. Daughter Natalia then would use her power of attorney to buy properties for the mother. He said Ilia “was never supposed to own anything.” But, Rosen alleged, Ilia accessed corporate records and changed all of them to make his wife and then himself the owner.
The lawsuit filed by Filippova alleges that Ilia had used a simple scheme: he forged Natalia’s signature on numerous documents transferring ownership to him and then got associates to notarize or witness the fraudulent signatures. Rosen named Frank Cavallino, an American of Italian origin and Palm Beach County friend of Ilia, among his accomplices. Cavallino is currently charged with fraudulent witnessing of Natalia’s signature on the documents transferring assets to her husband. Similar charges have been laid against Ilia’s former office manager Erikah Bertoloti whom Rosen calls “a paramour” of Mogilevsky. The lawsuit lists four more people from Palm Beach County allegedly involved into the legalization of forged documents.
Tamara Filippova has filed her lawsuit not only against the son-in-law, but against her daughter as well. The Irkutsk retiree believes that Natalia had helped Ilia to defraud her. The mother refuses to believe that her daughter could be unaware of Ilia’s machinations. Rosen believes though that Natalia Mogilevskaya was never involved into the scams of her husband who had simply lied to her.
Ilia Mogilevsky and his wife
The version provided by the attorney seems credible because the marriage of Natalia and Ilia has apparently fallen apart a while ago. 39-year-old Natalia has filed for divorce on November 2, 2017. On November 11, she was charged with biting her husband’s wrist in the presence of their two minor children, ages 12 and 3. Stuart Kaplan, an attorney for Natalia, told the court that his client has done this because she was outraged with deeds of her husband. According to Kaplan, Ilia Mogilevsky had taken Natalia’s cell phones, obtained bank account passwords from them and cleaned out the couple’s accounts of $110 thousand.
Natalia Mogilevskaya told the court that, at her husband’s insistence, she was a stay-at-home mom. The Russian native was involved only with the home and children and had no idea about the operations pulled off by Mogilevsky. She said that Ilia “has been secretive about his income, financial dealing, assets, and liabilities”.
Ilia Mogilevsky and his wife. Photo: my Palm Beach Post
Rosen claims that after the November divorce filing, Ilia folded many of the Florida entities into two dummy companies in Wyoming, because that state’s corporate laws made it easier to hide the corporations and their transactions from his wife and others. Natalia Mogilevskaya says that she was not aware of this and now her assets officially belong to some legal entities.
Businessman Gustav Renny was the main witness in the legal battle between Filippova and Mogilevsky. Renny was a partner with Ilia in at least 49 Florida corporations, most of them set up to acquire South Florida real estate. He claimed that Ilia Mogilevsky hid most or all of his 500-plus transactions from oversight, thus, concealing more than half of his profits. Renny also said that Ilia has transferred 28 properties out of their partnership to stiff Renny out of what should have been a 50% share of their profits. According to Renny, Mogilevsky had used in his scams not only the money, but also the name of his mother-in-law. Using Tamara Filippova as a dummy person, the Russian native had concealed assets and avoided liability for his actions.
Renny insists that Mogilevsky hadn’t shun any means to defraud his wife, mother-in-law, and business partner. For instance, he has engaged into ‘inappropriate relations’ with the administrator of the office where the both businessmen were working. And then he paid his mistress for spying on Renny. Once Renny has caught her recording his conversations on her cell phone from behind the door. Therefore, Renny was not surprised with another attempt of Mogilevsky to defraud his partner. In April 2015, Renny wanted to withdraw from their joint business – but Mogilevsky has provided fake documents to him showing significant losses sustained by their venture. Later it became known that virtually all their deals were, in fact, profitable.
The court examination of scams pulled off by Mogilevsky has just begun. However, scandalous details of that litigation have already popped-up in the Russian press. Life.ru news portal wrote about robbed Tamara Filippova and her dishonest son-in-law. However, the most important question for the Russian journalists was: where could a retired Irkutsk lady get idle $8 million to invest into American real estate?
Tamara Filippova officially owns 10% of shares in Irkutsk-based Center of Magnetic Resonance Therapy Limited Liability Company. However, this company was established in 2013, while the first portion of money in the amount of $5 million had been transferred by Filippova to her son-in-law three years earlier. Therefore, the funds were likely earned not by Tamara – but by her husband Yuri Filippov named “a very successful businessman” by Rosen.
According to Life.ru, Yuri Filippov runs a concrete production business in the Irkutsk region and wins governmental contracts on a regular basis. In the past, he used to own an entire bunch of companies with billion-ruble turnovers. The range of his business interests is pretty broad – from real estate to printing and transportation services.
Tamara and Yuri Filippov
Currently Filippov is the sole proprietor and Director of two Irkutsk-based companies: Altair+ and Firma Signal specializing in real estate leasing and management. Altair+ Limited Liability Company made a profit of 1.2 million rubles ($21.2 thousand) in the last fiscal year, while Firma Signal Limited Liability Company was profitless.
Filippov also owns Anastasia Admiral Limited Liability Company. Two more companies belonging to the retiree are more successful financially: Anastasia+ Limited Liability Company generates 4.2 million rubles ($74.3 thousand) per year, while Anastasia Limited Liability Company – 2.9 million rubles ($51.3 thousand). In addition, Filippov owns 50% of shares in PTs Real Printing Enterprise, Upravdelami Limited Liability Company, Komplit Limited Liability Company, and Profi Beauty and Health Center Limited Liability Company – but none of those generates considerable revenues.
The only enterprise generating a significant official income is Passazh na Basninskoi Limited Liability Company – the Irkutsk retiree owns 37% of its shares. This company brings its shareholders some 50 million rubles ($884 thousand) per year. Out of that amount, Filippov gets some 20 million rubles ($353.6 thousand). Still, this is not enough to save millions of U.S. dollars in a few years... So, where is the money from? Life.ru has suggested that the father-in-law of Ilia Mogilevsky gains main profits not from his legal businesses – but from governmental contracts implemented through dozens of ‘subsidiary companies’. Life.ru believes that this information might be of interest for the Russian law enforcement authorities. What is the origin of the money used to buy real estate in the U.S.?
Could it be the budget funds received by Filippov's companies to implement governmental contracts?
A petition against the shooting of stray animals in anticipation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup has been signed by more than 1.5 million people. Famous Russian actors made a stand for the animals. Protest rallies were held in some cities. The FIFA is getting letters from animal advocates. French actress Brigitte Bardot has personally addressed Vladimir Putin asking to stop the killing of animals for the sake of football.