Russian man pleads guilty in electronics shipping scam

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A Russian man who went by the online moniker "Evilvodka" and duped Americans into shipping dishonestly obtained electronics to Eastern European countries pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud today in U.S. District Court.

Arthur S. Gorlov, 28 at the time of his indictment in November, faces sentencing Oct. 16 by U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer.

Mr. Gorlov was studying at Grand Valley State College in Michigan, according to assistant U.S. attorney James Wilson, but was also a member of the so-called Atlanta Alliance of credit card scammers.

Mr. Wilson said that Mr. Gorlov used stolen credit card numbers to buy electronics, which were shipped to Americans who believed they were working legitimate stay-at-home jobs. Those Americans repackaged the electronics and mailed them, using altered shipping labels, to Eastern European countries.

When the unwitting reshippers became suspicious, Mr. Gorlov and others sent them letters in which they pretended to be U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigators, according to Mr. Wilson.

In one such letter to a Pittsburgh-area reshipper, which Mr. Wilson read to Judge Fischer, the scammers wrote that if the reshippers cooperated with an investigation, "it will be no shadow of suspect on you." The letter instructed the reshipper to start sending the electronics to an East Liberty address, described as a postal inspection center, but actually a house controlled by the scammers.

Mr. Wilson said that while Mr. Gorlov was responsible for only $10,000 to $30,000 in losses, the Atlanta Alliance's impact was in the millions of dollars. It cost American Express $584,254, Hewlett-Packard $347,834 and Discover $258,050, along with roughly $1 million in losses to other victims, according to Mr. Wilson.

Mr. Gorlov was arrested in October when customs agents detained him at JFK International Airport after he got off a plane from Moscow.

Federal sentencing guidelines suggest that Mr. Gorlov faces around a year in prison.

Rich Lord: or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.

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