A Moscow Times report highlighted how three Moldovans and a Ukranian face up to six years in gaol if convicted of the crime.
The suspects stand accused of using a police scanner to monitor theft of stolen cars. Matching the car registration with names and numbers in the stolen database the car owners were contacted and asked to pay a ransom – for cars the criminals didn't even have.
The crime took place in Mystishchi, a town close to Moscow. Victims were asked to transfer money into a Western Union account. A person was then hired, for somewhere in between 500 and 1000 roubles, to pick up the money and deliver it to the suspects.
The report said the scam may have been running up to a year and that it is not known how many people were affected by it. Police monitored the suspects and then raided an apartment where they found a homemade police scanner and further equipment used in the scam. A police spokeswoman suggested there are other groups in Moscow operating similar scams.