How far would you travel for $7 million in gold bars? For Igor Klopov of Moscow, Russia, the answer was "all the way to Manhattan".
In an August 16, 2007 Press Release from the Manhattan District Attorney's office the full scheme was laid out as charges were pressed against Klopov and his four American co-conspirators.
Klopov found his inspiration as he read the Forbes 400 Richest People, determining that these would be the perfect victims. Using a combination of computer hacking, open source investigation, and actually hiring private detectives, he built profiles on his targets, but he felt safer using Americans to do his dirty work.
Using Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, Klopov recruited Americans who would act as his agents to do the "real world" work. Klopov provided them with First Class air fare, 5-star hotels, limousine service, fake identities, and all of the false documents necessary to accomplish his frauds.
The co-defendants who were charged last week include:
Westley Watson, 37, Detroit MI
Lee Monopoli, 41, Fort Lauderdale, FL
James Dalton, 33, Konroe TX
Richard Hoskins, 29, London KY
JP Morgan Chase alerted law enforcement when they realized that James Dalton was attempting to withdraw $7 Million from the account of Charles Wyly. The Manhattan Identity Theft Task Force went into action, setting up an undercover sting.
In this operation, an undercover Secret Service agent managed to get himself "recruited" by Klopov. As proof that the transaction was completed, he arranged to have himself photographed with $7 Million in gold bars, which Klopov decided to come and handle himself.
He "snuck in" to the country on a private plane to meet the undercover officer, who arrested him at the airport in New York back in May.