Russian Samovar-Sale Business: Big Bucks, but No Samovars

One of the most popular symbols of the Russian history - a samovar - has been discredited in the United States of America. However, Americans are not to blame in this respect - the whole thing happened - on account of fraudsters from the city of Tula (Russian samovars are traditionally produced in the city of Tula.)

Using the American invention - the world wide web - a group of Russians cheated unsuspecting American citizens with the help of the site, asking them to purchase Russian samovars. The site contained messages like this one: "Here you can find answers to all your questions about the past and the present of the Russian cultural symbol. Yet, the site's visitors (presumably American citizens) have only one question about this symbol - where is my money gone?

However, this is not the only case to illustrate the nature of the Russian inventive ability connected with the use of Western Internet technologies. Dmitry Bashilov, the chief of the investigation department of the Tula division of the FSB, said: "Last year, the Tula Chamber of Industry and Commerce received a letter from infuriated American citizen Tom Ring, who decided to purchase the symbol of the Russian every-day life in an online store. As the American man said, he transferred $200 to Tula, but never received what he had paid for." Police officers initiated the investigation together with FBI agents.

Federal agents found dozens of victims of the fraud in various regions of the United States of America. As it turned out as a result of questioning, there were Spanish and British nationals among them, while the total number of victims totaled almost 100 people.

Sergey Lipilin, an investigator of the FSB department said that Tula-based law-enforcement officers contacted special services of those countries. The samovar site looks rather fine: it presents the history of the Russian samovar, a very nice picture gallery, news, forum, where people could discuss Russian tea-drinking traditions. The guestbook section became the most "popular" segment of the site, though. The webpage was designed by a St.Petersburg-based firm, which then signed a contract with a 30-year-old Tula-based system administrator. He published an ad about selling samovars and presented 23 various items, the price of which varied between $200-$800.

"At first, he was honest in his business. He shipped three samovars to his customers, and then simply decided to take the money that foreigners sent him via the Western Union. There were a lot of money transfers made like that, they allegedly totaled $20 thousand. That is why, the man used several people for getting the money both in Tula and in Moscow.

The seller did not react to furious complaints from offended foreigners. He told an investigator that he treated money transfers as charitable activities: "What does the sum of $200 mean for Americans? Nothing. A poor Russian citizen has a right to use this money as humanitarian help."

However, if the court finds the fraudster guilty, the man might be sentenced to six years in jail. Nevertheless, investigators have to obtain written applications from cheated customers and to acknowledge them fraud victims. After that it will be possible to file the case at court.

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