June 18, 2010 / 12:54 PM / 7 years ago

Russian fraud police track down grab-and-run granny

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A 71-year-old Russian grandmother has been issued with a restriction order by Moscow police for swindling businessmen out of more than half a million dollars, a spokesman for the force said on Friday.

The geriatric fraudster, identified only by her first name Svetlana, posed as an influential lobbyist with close ties to Moscow’s City Hall between 2007 and 2008, during which she committed the crime, popular daily Izvestia reported.

She promised to deliver the swindled sum of 16.4 million roubles ($531,200) to her alleged contacts within the authorities as a bribe on behalf of clients keen to purchase prime real estate in the heart of the capital.

She then vanished with the money until authorities tracked her down on Thursday, police said. She is currently banned from leaving Moscow and is under investigation, the spokesman added.

Russia is plagued by endemic corruption, which Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has repeatedly vowed to tackle.

Reporting by Ben Judah

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