The Russian newspaper, The St. Petersburg Times, of Friday 23rd April 2010, reported that the local Nevsky district court began hearing the case of Artyom Kopolev, 24, who is accused of impersonating the head of the St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast police force, Vladislav Piotrovsky, on the popular social networking site VKontakte. The obvious piece of evidence was Kopolev’s photo ‘avatar’ which was….you’ve guessed it, a picture of the police chief in his uniform.
During the impersonation run, Kopolev made all sorts of offers to improve life and sort out problems, such as, preferential terms on loans, returning confiscated driving licences to drivers who were caught over the alcohol limit; opportunities with the police force; supplying military service records, and “the organisation of personal happiness”, of course, at a price.
His modus operandi was to meet with people, ensuring he presented well in expensive clothes and jewellery, in order to impress his clientèle. The promises made and paid for were not fulfilled. When complaints started rolling in to the police with the VKontakte address and profile photo for evidence, a serious investigation got underway.
The fraudster was caught in a scam, with a policewoman posing online as a jealous wife who wanted proof of her husband’s dalliances and infidelities. When Kopolev and the policewoman met to clinch the deal, he was arrested.
In the court hearing, on the 22nd April, Kopolev blamed his actions on his girlfriend, who he said, believed a man was not a man unless he earned in excess of $1000 per day!
Kopolev is currently held in one of Russia’s prisons.