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Famous fraudsters from the “trading” company Milton Group came under the close attention of European journalists and law enforcement agencies. Having endured a pause of about 1 hour, they decided to use machinations to oust the investigations of their criminals conducted by Swedish and Ukrainian journalists from the search results of Google.
As a reminder, the company that was founded in Israel in 2017 and moved to Kyiv’s Mandarin Plaza shopping center lured European pensioners out of tens of thousands of dollars by offering profitable investments and huge dividends. Naturally, the poor, deceived old men said goodbye to all their savings forever after that.
The company was created by people from Abkhazia, and they were covered by some high-ranking Georgian officials.
And here, as it turned out, the noisy case did not end with anything, and the fraudsters continued their criminal activities.
And so that people who want to be interested in their activities do not find the materials of the investigation, cunning people decided to clog the search issue with information garbage – articles about some other Milton Group and some other Abkhazian David Todu, the head of the Milton Group.
Articles are posted on various garbage sites with enviable regularity.
For example, Milton Group creates lighting systems on the Rivne Vechirne website
But on the Kharkiv website they tell about the career of David Todua, who created the successful company Milton Group in … Lipetsk district.
And so on and so on. Such information garbage appears in the search results with excessive regularity. The goal is clear – to supplant the materials of the investigations into the mother of fraudsters.
But such a trick will certainly not be able to be detected by the scammers’ ears. Since our editorial office noticed such activity of swindlers, we decided to refresh the readers’ memory and publish again the materials of the investigation about cunning fraudsters.
Back in May 2018, the SBU searched the office of a criminal company, reporting the seizure of computers and documents and the opening of a criminal case. Then it seemed that the grouping was finished forever, but the action of the terrible service came to naught in a strange way. In the court register, there is no mention of this search, nor of any other operational actions against Milton Group.
Milton Group ( Milton Group ), aka Effire group , aka triada provide , is a fraudulent structure that positions itself as an investment company.
The driver of a criminal project in Israel, but in 2017 the authorities of this country banned his activities, and the fraudsters moved their black business to Ukraine, from where, among other things, the activities of branches in Georgia, Albania and Cyprus are coordinated.
It can be called a Ukrainian group only because its work center is located in Kyiv, on the top floor of the luxurious Mandarin Plaza . The composition of fraudsters is international, and the victims of cruel scams are citizens of the most different countries of the world.
At first glance, the Kyiv office of Milton Group may seem like an ordinary call center. The entrance is strictly guarded, and inside in front of the computers, hundreds of sellers are sitting in headphones, immersed in conversations with customers.
Milton Group differs from others in terms of volume of fraud and special criminal methodology.
The center is divided into sales departments according to the language principle. There are Russian, English, Italian and Spanish sectors, each of them focused on a certain region of the world.
Clients from all over the world are offered to invest money and cryptocurrency on unprecedentedly favorable terms (4000% of the invested amount). The machinators improvise, coming up with foreign names on the go, interspersing the names of well-known world banks and companies with brands invented right here, under the roof of Mandarin Plaza.
- Virtual Stocks
Milton Group – a Ukrainian company created by Georgians defrauded people from 50 countries for more than $70 million
Osten Moriani, a 75-year-old retired carpenter, lives near the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden. About six months ago, a person responded to an announcement on social networks to invest in bitcoins, the so-called digital currency. Having agreed, he gave all his funds and even took out a loan at a huge interest rate. However, instead of the promised profit, he was left without a roof over his head.
According to the instructions of people who introduced themselves as employees of the Finix Capital company, the man transferred about 40,000 dollars (almost a million hryvnias, – EDITORIAL). After making a profit, the man planned to repair the house and the car. Now Osten Moriany is forced to live with his friend.
Osten is one of the victims of the activities of the Ukrainian company Milton Group, which offered sky-high profits from investments in cryptocurrency for its investors. Journalists from Dagens Nyheter (Sweden), Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and partner agencies, including us, investigated her work for several months.
Journalists managed to communicate with more than a hundred victims of the company, as well as get a lot of information from a former employee of the company.
According to the victims, they found ads about profitable investments on Facebook and left their contacts to learn more. Soon, they were called by specialists of the contact center who called themselves representatives of Western European financial companies. The interlocutors persistently offered to invest in their future, claiming that they would never regret this choice. Only in the last hour, people have invested 6,500,000 euros in cryptocurrency. Of the victims interviewed by journalists, no one was able to fully return their savings.
Some of the victims turned to the police in their countries, but the positive results of the investigations are still unknown. Nevertheless, many still hope to return their money or at least part of the investment. Osten Moriany from Sweden , however, has already lost hope: “What is left? There is nothing left but to wait for death.”
“You can sell dreams”
In the very center of Kyiv, not far from Khreshchatyk, is the elite shopping and entertainment center Mandarin Plaza. Branded clothes, shoes, jewelry and gifts can be purchased in brightly decorated pavilions. However, a completely different product is sold on the upper floors of the center. There, employees of the Milton Group call center offer their clients “investments in bitcoins.
Contact center employees make up to 300 calls daily. The office is divided into various language departments – Russian, English, Italian and Spanish, each of which is focused on certain regions. Also, employees come up with other names similar to the region they work with. For example, the Ukrainian Daria becomes “Diana” while working, and the guy from Senegal chooses the name “Tod Kaiser”, which is more familiar to Germany. The office itself is carefully guarded, and employees are even prohibited from using personal phones at work.
As the former employee of the Milton Group call center Alexey (name changed, editor’s note) told Swedish journalists, customers could be shown huge profits in fake online wallets, which should have stimulated them to invest even more money. However, these were only numbers on the screen of their gadget, in fact, there were no funds in these accounts.
The guy said that most of the employees in the call center have no experience in selling financial products. During trainings in the company, they were taught to “sell emotions”: “They said: you can sell dreams.”
According to Alexei, the call center workers were well aware that they were helping to deceive people. He told DN that she joked to the sales manager, with whom he worked for some time, that even at the age of six she dreamed of “being a scoundrel and stealing money from people.”
“This company, what they do, it’s all fake, it’s all fake,” says Alexey. “They just steal money from people.”
For call center workers, there are also special notes with tips about residents of those or other countries, which allegedly help to get more. According to records obtained by the OCCRP publication, clients from Scandinavian countries are, as a rule, “old people who need someone to talk to.” But people from Great Britain or Australia, note in the records, “everyone knows and is sure that their countries are the best in the world.”
The internal client base of the company “Milton Group” tracks how many funds have been invested by this or that person. The call center staff also notes the results of communication with clients in the database. As noted by OCCRP journalists who received screenshots of the client base, the pages are littered with insults and mockery of the victims.
For example, in his notes about a 67-year-old Swedish woman, one of the office employees wrote: “She sold the house to make ends meet, she has no money, she is crying.” And about the already mentioned Osten Moriana, one of the employees of “Milton Group” noted: “Every month I “shoe” my ego by at least one thousand euros. Receives a pension on the 20th, works every Tuesday.”
“Kyiv Wolves” and gold-plated weapons
The company “Milton Group” has existed for a little more than three years. According to the state register, its owner is a resident of Georgia , Irakly Dadivadze . By the way, the employees call the real owner of the company a second person – an Israeli with Georgian roots , David Todua . According to the journalist’s source, he periodically appears in the company’s office surrounded by security guards. Todua also owns the online payment platform Naspay , registered in Cyprus. “Milton Group” uses it to process its “investments”.
In his Instagram, David Todua poses with a gold-plated “Kalashnikov” and often publishes photos of luxury cars parked near his home.
OCCRRR journalists noticed that Todua has business ties with many politicians in several countries, and most of all, with former ministers and other figures of the “United National Movement” party of Mikhail Saakashvila , who was the president of Georgia until 2013.
For example, David Todua is referred to as David Todva in Ukrainian registers. The man is a co-owner of several Ukrainian companies together with the former Minister of Defense and Director of the Financial Police of Georgia David (Davit) Kezerashvili . In 2013, he was accused of receiving $1,200,000 in bribes for turning a blind eye to mass smuggling of alcohol into Georgia from Ukraine. The politician was subsequently acquitted.
One of the companies that Todua jointly owns with Kezerashvili, Project Partners, works in the field of programming and data processing. Through Project Partners, Todua and Kezerashvili also own the companies “Firma Special-Trading” and partially “Elitcomfortbud”.
Giya Getsadze , the former Deputy Minister of Justice of Georgia , is the Director of Project Partners . It is interesting that Getsadze held the same position in Ukraine until 2018. The co-owner of “Elitcomfortbud” is Petr Tsiskarishvili , the Minister of Agriculture of Georgia during Saakashvili’s time and one of the leaders of his party “United National Movement”, as well as a member of “Mikhail Saakashvili’s Movement of New Forces” and candidate for People’s Deputies of Ukraine Ivan Mosashvili .
In a comment to OCCRP, Kezerashvili confirmed that he is Todua’s business partner, but noted that he did not know anything about the Milton Group company.
According to the company’s personnel, the general director of “Milton Group” until recently was Jacob Keselman , although, according to the state register, Yevgeny Voronin is the director of the company . On his Instagram page, Keselman calls himself a “Kiev wolf” . So is David Todua, in his social networks he also shares photos of weapons, expensive trips and luxury cars.
In a conversation with OCCRP journalists, David Todua refuted the words of the call center workers, who call him the “father” of the Milton Group. “I am not the father of any company, I am the proud father of five children,” he answered.
Jacob Keselman, in turn, noted to OCCRP that the company does not carry out illegal operations, and also added that he does not know who David Todua is. According to him, the owner of “Milton Group” is a Ukrainian.
At the beginning of 2020, the company “Milton Group” celebrated a New Year’s party in the style of the novel “The Great Gatsby”. It was attended, in particular, by Todua and Keselman. During his congratulation, Todua noted that in the past hour, the employees of the Kyiv office earned a record 65,000,000 euros for the company. Also, at the party, other representations were mentioned – in particular, in Georgia and Albania.
Unknown brands and retention strategies
Contact center employees allow their interlocutors to invest in cryptocurrency, presenting themselves as brands that really specialize in such activities. As OCCRP found out, “Milton Group” used, in particular, such names as CryptoMB, Cryptobase, Finix Capital and VetoeroBanc . Unfortunately, it is impossible to determine the real owners of these services, because most of the companies are registered in the so-called offshore zones – in the Marshall Islands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Direct transfer of funds from clients took place through the Western Union system , other bank transfers and bitcoins, and certain amounts were sent to private accounts. At the same time, as OCCRP journalists noticed, in many cases a system of virtual credit cards called Naspay was used for payment . This company is registered in Cyprus and belongs to David Todua . However, Todua himself denied any ties between Naspay and Milton Group.
Journalists found out that call center workers often asked clients to install a program that allows remote control of a computer for “help” with banking operations. With its help, employees of “Milton Group” could perform banking operations instead of clients. Also, in some victims, journalists noticed a special extension (plug-in) for the browser, which allows you to change the code of the web page.
In particular, such an expansion was noticed by journalists when communicating with a victim of the “Milton Group” from the Czech Republic. As it turned out, the plugin was used to show a fake transfer of more than 300,000 dollars, which allegedly went to the husband’s account. In fact, there were no funds in his account.
In total, he lost more than 200,000 dollars. The man asked not to be named, since he did not inform his wife about the loss of his life.
“I was looking for opportunities for good investments to get money for my retirement and my daughter. But I chose a bad path,” says the Czech.
In order to keep their clients as long as possible, call center employees use various scams – in particular, among the most common are false calls from the banker, the tax service, and the like. In fact, instead of an employee of, for example, a bank, another Milton Group employee communicates with a client, who must convince that everything is in order with his money. Also, as DN and OCCRP managed to find out, some workers may also call themselves lawyers or send fake letters with messages about alleged tax debt that must be paid so that the money is not blocked.
So, Alex, a resident of Ecuador, who also became a victim of the “Milton Group” , borrowed money from relatives to pay off a tax debt in Great Britain, about which he was informed in an official letter. As Alex says, he had to deposit these funds so that he could withdraw the profit from the investment.
After a few days, my wife scolded me, she almost kicked me out of the house,” Alex told reporters of the local Plan-V agency.
DN journalists asked the Swedish crypto-currency expert Leif Nixon to analyze bitcoin wallets used by Milton Group to receive payments from clients. In particular, Nixon drew attention to the address of the accounts, which could be changed every time for new payments.
“It’s opening a bank account, but you don’t get an account number; instead of making a deposit, you get a new account number every time,” he explained. According to Leif Nixon, “Milton Group” has clear signs of not quite legal activity.
As Dagens Nyheter journalists reported, a former Milton Group employee, Alexey, agreed to testify to law enforcement officers about the company’s work. The Swedish police have already turned to Europol to conduct an international investigation.
The journalists also asked the Ukrainian law enforcement officers whether the company “Milton Group” is a figure in official investigations, and the journalists were not given answers, the question was forwarded to the Prosecutor General’s Office. Consequently, after publication, the editors will re-send a request to the police regarding the facts disclosed in the material.
Supplements the TIN information:
“Summing up about the company Milton Group”
The main positions of the company are held by Georgians. Some of them are former Georgian officials, previously accused of illegal activities.
The only official beneficiary of Milton Group is Irakly Dadyvadze .
In the DN investigation , David Todua was named as the owner . CEO Milton Group – Jacob Keselman .
Todua has a Naspay payment system . Most of the fraudsters’ operations went through it.
Another business of Dadyvadze is Lime Consulting . According to rumors from an anonymous source, the company Lime Consulting may be connected with the partner Cashhunter.biz .
Among the vacancies at Lime Consulting, sales managers who are able to retain a regular client and who speak Swedish predominate:
Davyd Todua has several businesses in Ukraine established in partnership with former Minister of Defense and Director of the Financial Police of Georgia Davyd Kezerashvili . In 2013, he was accused of bribery and alcohol smuggling to Ukraine.
Through the joint LLC “Project Partners” – which is also engaged in IT programming – Todua and Kazerashvili own the companies “Special Trading Firm” and partially “Elitcomfortbud” .
Former Georgian officials are appointed as directors and authorized persons. Thus, the head of “Firma Special-Trading” Giya Getsadze is a former Deputy Minister of Justice of Georgia (he held the same position in Ukraine). And the co-founder of “Elitcomfortbud” is Petr Tsiskarishvili, the Minister of Agriculture of Georgia during the Saakashvili government