Monday, January 31, 2011

Funny money is no joke after one guy loses $50,000

By Alina Lobzina
The Moscow News
January 31, 2011

An exchange rate which seemed too good to be true left a 24-year-old man counting the cost – after fraudsters robbed him of $50,000.

Instead of getting legal banknotes, the man from Zhukovsky was left with a bundle of almost worthless toy cash – to the tune of 1.48 million roubles.

And the scam didn’t come to light until the hapless victim tried to buy a new car – only to realise he had been duped.

Little sympathy

But the plight of the na├»ve victim didn’t inspire much sympathy from policemen investigating the case.

“We thought no-one would fall for these funny pieces of paper, only slightly resembling real money, as they are sold in every kiosk,” police staff told Komsomolskaya Pravda.

However, the trick worked well, and just covering bundles of toy money with few real banknotes was enough to outsmart the man.

The swindler even managed to avoid leaving a memorable description – citing his fears of the flu epidemic as he wore a facemask throughout the transaction.

Empty office

The unlucky car-buyer rushed back to the exchange office in a shopping centre on Leningradsky Prospekt, but no-one was waiting for him there.

Only a few dozens sheets of uncut toy money, two mobile phones that had been used to set the deal and a pair of booking-clerk’s rubber gloves greeted policemen upon their arrival.


Currency exchange kiosks used to be scattered around Moscow but became illegal on Oct. 1, 2010.

And banking exchange services have had to conform to new regulations.

But eradicating the long-established exchange points has proved more difficult, Bank of Russia reports there are at least 125 in the capital.

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