Three young Chechen women are in trouble after being caught scamming Islamic State (IS) fighters out of thousands of dollars by posing as wannabe jihadi brides, according to reports in Russia.
The women are reportedly now being held by Russian authorities on charges of suspected fraud.
Russian website Life News reported that the scam began on social networks, where the women would begin to contact IS militants in Syria and Iraq. If the targeted jihadi “bought” their ruse, the girl would send him pictures.
One of those involved, Maryam, told the website that one man in particular began communicating with her at first. “He began to lure me, saying: ‘Do you want to come to Syria, [it is] very good.’ I told him that I had no money,” she said. So the man wired her 10,000 rubles ($168).
After Maryam received the money, she deleted her social media accounts, setting up new ones and finding a new set of new men to speak to. Between the three women, they received more than $3,100, before Chechen police caught them.
Maryam told Life News that at one stage she did honestly consider making the journey to IS territory, but the stories coming back from friends who had done it about the way women were treated in IS territory forced her to reconsider.
According to the site, several people are currently detained in Chechnya for engaging in similar scams perpetrated against Islamic State militants. Those believed to have participated in them include men as well as women.
Maryam risks a fine or up to six years in prison if convicted of fraud.
“I don’t recall any precedent like this one in Chechnya, probably because nobody digs deep enough in that direction,” police officer Valery Zolotaryov told the Moskovskii Komsomolets website. “Anyhow, I don’t advise anyone to communicate with dangerous criminals, especially for grabbing quick money.”
The women’s detention comes two months after social media erupted in outrage around a debate about polygamy and age differences in marriage in the country, which resulted in Chechen President Ramzan A. Kadyrov saying: “You, men, keep your women far away from WhatsApp!”