"The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against Denis Georgiyevich Sotnikov and entities he controlled for allegedly participating in a fraudulent scheme to lure US investors into buying fictitious Certificates of Deposit", SEC said Friday.
The US regulator said the suspect promoted the scheme through online advertising and phony websites that mimic the actual sites of legitimate financial institutions.
"When investors called the phone number on the websites, an “account executive” impersonating a real registered representative directed investors to wire funds to so-called “clearing” partners. These alleged clearing partners were entities used by Sotnikov to launder and misappropriate investor funds. Since November 2014, the alleged scheme involved spoofing the websites of at least 24 actual financial firms or using at least 8 fictitious entities, resulting in over $26 million in known investor losses – with many of those losses from older investors who used their retirement savings", SEC said.
According to the statement, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey has announced related criminal charges and is currently pursuing asset seizures.
Earlier, US authorities arrested another Russian national Kirill Firsov for allegedly operating an online platform that was used to engage in cybercrimes.
In February, an employee of the All-Russian Centre for Plants Quarantine, an agency of the nation's agriculture watchdog, Olesya Krasilova was arrested in Spain at the US request.
Krasilova reportedly worked at the US Embassy in Russia before getting a position with the Russian agriculture watchdog. US authorities accused Krasilova of transferring personal biometric data to a third party while working at the American diplomatic mission in Moscow. No evidence to prove accusations was provided.
Russia has demanded that the United States withdraw an extradition request, noting that it will continue seeking the release of the Russian citizen as soon as possible.