Four Russian Nationals Indicted on Fraud Charges
ST. LOUIS, MO—Four Russian nationals have been indicted for conspiring to travel from Russia to casinos across the United States, including several local casinos, to cheat at particular slot games using electronic devices.
According to the indictment, the charged defendants engaged in a conspiracy to cheat at least 10 casinos in Missouri, California, and Illinois through the use of electronic devices. The devices were used to predict the behavior of a certain make and model of slot machine game known as the Aristocrat Mark VI Electronic Gaming Device. By communicating with a foreign server, the devices allowed the defendants to predict the behavior of the Mark IV games and obtain winnings from the games that far exceeded what would be expected from fair play. The defendants made multiple trips from Russia to the United States in order to carry out their scheme, using the devices to cheat casinos in St. Louis, Missouri; Temecula, California; and East St. Louis, Illinois, among others.
Murat Bliev, 36; Yevgeniy Nazarov, 38; Igor Lavrenov, 28; and Ivan Gudalov, 32 were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of traveling in interstate and foreign commerce in furtherance of the conspiracy. Bliev, Lavrenov, and Gudalov are all believed to reside in Moscow, Russia. Nazarov is a U.S. citizen residing in Miami, Florida.
If convicted, each count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentences, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Missouri Highway Patrol, the Missouri Gaming Commission, the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Gaming Board, and the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Gambling Control. Assistant United States Attorney Richard E. Finneran is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.