With the beginning of the war in Ukraine, financial fraud and the level of financial crime in Europe in general began to increase. The reason for this is the wave of refugees from Ukraine and millions of Russians fleeing mobilization in Russia.
In this article, we will focus on one particular type of criminal activity, namely the debt collection business, which is carried out by a specific company and its leader, Artem Degtiarov. The information presented here is sourced from individuals working in the field of business and commercial air transportation operators who have provided us with a detailed understanding of how this operation functions.
So, BlackList Aero Company, as stated on their website, works with debtors in the aviation business market and supposedly helps to repay debts.
The website of BlackList Aero displays lists of alleged debtors who are portrayed as deceiving customers. However, there is a notable absence of supporting evidence such as documents or court decisions to substantiate these claims. Instead, numerous accusations serve as a basis for further fraudulent activities and extortion of money.
The scheme devised and executed by Artem Degtiarov, the CEO of BlackList Aero, can be distilled into a few straightforward steps.
The first step involves the publication of information on the Internet and social media platforms targeting companies from which potential funds can be demanded. This includes tarnishing their reputation and creating a wave of information with the intent to psychologically and informally influence the debtor. Additionally, there is active communication directed at other companies in the market, including competitors, partners, suppliers, and contractors, with the aim of damaging their reputation and instilling doubts.
Moving on to the second step, immediate repayment of all payments is demanded, even if they are not yet overdue as per the terms of the contracts. Extra payments are also requested as part of the coercion tactic.
In the third step, if the client does not comply or seeks legal assistance, the company resorts to direct threats. This includes making phone calls, sending messages from unknown numbers, and issuing threats via email. The company may also engage in hacking personal accounts and conducting hacker attacks as a separate strategy.
The intense and aggressive approach employed in these actions often yields a positive outcome, as the targeted company may agree to pay the demanded funds or the harassment ceases altogether. However, once the client has made the payment, the cycle can repeat itself, with the demands persisting until there is another opportunity to extract money from the client. This vicious cycle can continue as long as the debtor have no resources to pay.
The geography of companies affected by the actions of these fraudsters is wide enough – from EU countries and Great Britain to Asia and the Middle East. But the method is simple, which consists of these 3 steps – a dirty information campaign, blackmail and threats.
Behind all these actions is a person who has been actively engaged in similar activities in Ukraine and Russia for many years and was involved in the implementation of several high-profile political scandals, including the so-called “Case of pedophiles”, which was very resonant during the 2010 Ukrainian presidential elections. Artem Degtiarov is considered one of the participants in this scandal and the direct executors. At that time, Russia tried to push Viktor Yanukovych to the post of President of Ukraine and used every opportunity to do so. Degtiarov actively helped in this.
It is indicative that Artem Degtiarov is surrounded by influential Russian curators and “protectors”. Since Degtiarov has been actively involved in collecting activities in Europe for a long period, it is likely that he maintains connections with influential persons in Russia who provide him with appropriate support and protection.
But it cannot last long. Many affected companies are already actively cooperating with law enforcement agencies in order to put an end to the criminal activities of Degtiarov and his team.