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21 Jul, 2008 19:12

Four guilty of selling fake government ID

Four people have been jailed after being found guilty by Moscow's regional military court of selling fake government identification. The three men and one woman were accused of belonging to a criminal gang and selling counterfeit documents which could be

For just a few hundred thousand U.S. dollars anyone able and willing to pay the price was offered various top government posts.

Those who were taken in by the scheme soon parted with their money – and the supposed ‘government officials’ disappeared to look for their next ‘client’.

The organiser of the scam, Yevgeny Reznikov, rightly assumed that anyone willing to pay for a post would be equally unwilling to go to the police. And so, their business flourished – and their price list included positions within the Interior Affairs Ministry, the Federal Security Bureau and many others.

The fact gang members occupied important government positions gave them credibility. One of the organisers was an Emergencies Ministry colonel – and even worked in the president’s administration.

But by selling these fake positions, they in turn lost their own.

Now the four have been sentenced to between five and 10 years jail, although the prosecution had sought up to 14 years. They will also face a fine of around half a million roubles ($US 22,000).

The defendants and their lawyers said they will be appealing against the verdict.

The four have been under arrest since 2005 and the case was in court for nearly a year.

Though this sort of incident is not new for Russia, such cases are seldom made public.

President Dmitry Medvedev has made fighting corruption one of the main goals of his tenure.