Internet Dating Scam Dismantled - May 16, 2003
San Diego, California - John R. Kingston, Acting Special
Agent in Charge, San Diego Division of the Federal Bureau
of Investigation, today announces the arrests of two individuals
on charges of Conspiracy and Wire Fraud.
Robert L. McCoy, born January 8, 1964, and his wife, Anna
V. Grountovaia, born October 12, 1971, were arrested at 6:00
a.m. on Tuesday, May 13, 2003, without incident at their home
in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Their arrest was pursuant
to an indictment filed by a Federal Grand Jury for operating
a fraudulent Russian dating scheme via the Internet.
The arrests marked the culmination of an investigation conducted
by the FBI, in coordination with the U. S. Postal Inspection
Service, the U. S. Secret Service, the Internet Fraud Complaint
Center, the National White Collar Crime Center, the Federal
Trade Commission, and the Department of Justice.
Initiated in January of 2002 by the FBI's Cyber Crime Squad
in San Diego, the investigation began after an individual
reported he had been defrauded over the Internet. The victim
informed the FBI that he had been induced to wire thousands
of dollars to an agency which offered to expedite the travel
of a Russian woman he had developed a relationship with over
The indictment alleges that McCoy and Grountavaia posed as
Russian women under various names and posted on-line ads seeking
a serious relationship with men. At times, McCoy and Grountavaia
would also respond to on-line ads of other men in order to
induce them into developing on-line relationships. After the
initial contact was established, McCoy and Grountavaia would
then send e-mails and contact the victims by telephone to
entice the victims into wiring monies to Russia.
In these communications, the indictment alleges that McCoy
and Grountavaia, posing as a Russian woman, would claim to
belong to an 'agency' that could help facilitate a visit to
the victim's home country. Under the guise of this Russian
agency, the indictment further alleges that McCoy and Grountavaia
sent additional e-mails to the victims, instructing them to
wire sums ranging from $1,790 to $1,850, so the agency could
process flight arrangements, obtain visas, and secure placements
for the Russian woman in student exchange programs. After
the victims wired the money, believing the Russian woman would
soon arrive, McCoy and Grountavaia would then cease all contact
with the victims.
After processing at the FBI Building in San Diego, California,
both McCoy and Grountavaia were arraigned before United States
Magistrate Judge Louisa S. Porter on Tuesday, May 13, 2003.
The case has been assigned to United States District Court
Judge John S. Rhodes for trial.
If convicted, McCoy and Grountavaia face a maximum penalty
of five years incarceration and a $250,000 fine on charges
of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and twenty years incarceration
and another $250,000 fine on the charges of Wire Fraud.
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