Four Russian citizens, three of whom were in America on temporary work visas, conspired to steal personal information and used it to buy computers, jewelry, clothing and other merchandise.
The U.S. attorney's office in Sacramento unsealed the indictment after three of the men were arrested in Baltimore last month. The fourth, Aleksey Chugaev, 24, is believed to be a fugitive in southern Russia, prosecutors said.
Roman Karelov, 18, and Oleg V. Umarov, 20, were ordered held without bail during an appearance Monday in federal court in Sacramento. Radik E. Nizamov is being transported to Sacramento from Baltimore, where all three were living temporarily at the time of their April 13 arrest, prosecutors said.
The indictment alleges that Chugaev ran the operation from Russia, using the others to steal identities and credit information. He then used the information to withdraw cash in Russia and buy merchandise in the U.S. that was then shipped overseas, according to the indictment.
Umarov's attorney, Donald Dorfman, said his client is innocent. Umarov and his girlfriend, who was named in an earlier complaint but not the indictment, were swept up because they were living in the same Baltimore home as the other Russian nationals, he said.
Attorney Bruce Locke, who represents Karelov, did not immediately return a telephone message from The Associated Press.
Karelov, Umarov and Nizamov were in the U.S. on work visas that had expired by the time of their arrest, prosecutors said.
All four men are charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, credit card fraud and interstate transportation of stolen goods. Chugaev, Karelov and Nizamov also are charged with wire fraud, while Chugaev is charged with mail fraud and identity theft.
Mysterious philanthropist, Rustem Magdeev, had agreed, at his own expense, to donate a sculpture of Rudolf Nureyev, made by Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli, to the Kazan Opera and Ballet Theatre