Crooks took all the homeless ones had left

Joosep Värk
Please note that the article is more than five years old and belongs to our archive. We do not update the content of the archives, so it may be necessary to consult newer sources.

A criminal group led headed by Vitas Malinauskas and Aleksandr Tšistov cheated nearly 90 outcasts out of income, for a couple of bottles of beer or vodka, leaving the people in debts and misery. 

The scheme was not new as part of the group were imprisoned in the summer of 2014, in Tartu. Though the investigators sensed there were others left at liberty to operate, information was lacking.

Then, outraged homeless begun to visit police stations complaining of pension and whatever was left taken from their bank accounts.

It was time for a fresh proceeding.

It’s the same old problem, also, of fast loan providers and instalment payment providers having a lax attitude towards tougher regulation of the business.

Police says there are, sadly, always those naive or easily affected and thus used by dishonest people. To find such, the grouping did not have to toil hard at all.

All they had to do was show up at 10 am in front of some smaller store where such people gather to get the initial booze.  

The business was mainly in Tallinn and near neighbourhood, as well as Rapla, Pärnu and even Saaremaa and Hiiumaa.

The «business partners» were dressed up nice and washed clean. The easiest scheme was having them take out fast loans.  

If bank transfers statements were required, they presented false files. Which the firms bothered not to verify.

Once the call came back, crooks answered – according to gender and native language of the «client».

Then, they headed to a large electronics store where an accomplice was working. Who sold them stuff, with installed payments – no questions asked. Regrettably, the salesperson could not be prosecuted due to lack of evidence.

But he did lose his job.

By crooks with clients, electronic items were also ordered online.

Having gotten what they wanted, they gave the bums back the documents and threw them back on the streets. The money went to the bosses Vitas Malinauskas and Aleksandr Tšistov, stuff was sold over the Internet.

The assessed average sum pumped out of individuals was €3,000–€8,000.

The victims being around 90, damage caused amounted to €370,000.

The ringleaders lived lives of luxury. The members were not too well off, but were motivated by weekend drinking parties provided by the bosses.

The police say detecting details was difficult as the victims have no homes and telephones. Also, it is laborious to get statements from people who are often drunk.

In court, the crooks cooperated not at all and acted defiant. Yesterday, Mr Malinauskas settled for five years and eight months behind bars, Mr Tšistov four years and nine months. The rest will do time from 3 to 3.5 years.