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Colombian Used US-Controlled Bot Farm in Moscow to Spread Fake Info About Russian Forces

© Sputnik / Igor Kataev / Go to the mediabankA vehicle of the Russian Investigative Committee (File)
A vehicle of the Russian Investigative Committee (File) - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.12.2022
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Russian investigators completed on Monday a probe against Colombian citizen Alberto Enrique Giraldo Saray, who had created bot farms to spread fake reports about Russia's military operation in Ukraine on US instructions in the spring of 2022.
"The Russian Investigative Committee has completed the probe into the criminal case against Colombian citizen Giraldo Saray. He is accused of deliberately distributing false information about the use of the Russian armed forces in the special military operation," the committee said in a statement.
According to the investigation, Giraldo Saray, together with other members of a criminal group, organized a mass mailing of fake messages for a monetary reward on instructions from abroad. As part of the scheme, the intruders gained remote access to various mobile devices and sent such messages from Russian phone numbers.
"This activity was carried out in the interests of a foreign organization associated with the US Agency for International Development," the Russian investigative committee added.
Russian investigators have also managed to expose the chain of the group's financing, which included the use of cryptocurrency.
“Cash and digital financial assets have been seized by the investigation. Other defendants have been put on the wanted list," the statement read.
The story began in the spring of 2022, when thousands of Russian subscribers, mainly in the regions bordering Ukraine, started to receive SMS messages about allegedly huge losses of the Russian army in the military operation in Ukraine. The messages also agitated against the operation itself and urged Russians to go to rallies. The criminals sent messages from various Russian mobile phone numbers to give the opinion a mass character. However, concerned citizens complained to law enforcement agencies.
The investigators have managed to establish the ownership of the mobile phones, from which the messages were sent. The probe has discovered that Giraldo Saray, a 40-year-old Colombian citizen living in Moscow for a long time, was among those involved in the criminal scheme.
In particular, Giraldo Saray created a hidden bot farm in a locker room of a sports club in Moscow’s shopping center, according to video materials at Sputnik’s disposal. Such an unexpected place was chosen to ensure that a signal from the bot farm was lost among dozens of mall visitors’ mobile phones, the Colombian said during the interrogation.
To cover the tracks, Giraldo Saray periodically destroyed smartphones, which was caught on video. Broken phones seized by law enforcement officers are now being used as evidence in the case.
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