Women ‘conned IS fighters for thousands of pounds’ It is a scam almost as old as the internet: a hapless foreign man meets a prospective “bride” online, and is tricked into handing hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pounds to his non-existent future wife.
The three young women from Chechnya, a mostly Muslim republic in Russia’s north Caucasus, allegedly made nearly £2,000 by tricking Islamist fighters from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) into thinking they were willing to become “jihadi brides”.
One of the three told Life News, a Russian tabloid, that the fraud began when she was contacted on social media by a fighter in Syria who invited her to give everything up for a life with the terror group.
“I told him that I didn’t have any money, and he offered to sent me 10,000 [roubles – £107] on Qiwi-Wallet,” she said, referring to a popular Russian electronic cash transfer system.
She agreed, and as promised, the fighter transferred the cash. But rather than using the money to buy a ticket to Syria, she simply blocked her hapless extremist suitor from her social media account.
She subsequently repeated the stunt with two other Isil fighters, who sent her 15,000 and 20,000 roubles respectively. In all, she made about £500.
The woman who spoke to Life News said she initially seriously considered taking up the offer to move to Syria, but backed out because of the experiences of others.
“A lot of people I know have gone, but it did not end well for any of them,” she said.
The three women are now facing charges of fraud, which carry a maximum sentence of six years in jail.
Chechen police said they had found several people – not all of them women – who had set up fake social media accounts to contact the terror group.
One investigator said that Isil recruiters often use electronic cash transfers to their “victims” so they do not have to take the risk of buying tickets themselves.
“But I’ve never heard of a precedent for anything like this case. Probably because no one has gone far enough in that direction,” Valery Zolotarev of the Chechen anti-extremism centre told tabloid Moskovsky Komsomolets.
“I wouldn’t advise anyone to enter into correspondence with dangerous criminals in any case, and especially not to make some easy money,” he added.