Russians buy fake employment & illness certificates on Telegram to avoid conscription
by The Production Team

As Putin comes under growing pressure, his conscription campaign to get more Russians into the conflict has sparked an underground market on illicit online communities and social media for Russians to avoid the draft.

Risk intelligence firm Flashpoint has seen fake certificates and other services offered on forums such as Telegram, with many likely scams capitalising on desperate Russians looking to avoid the war. One method is ‘fake employment’, where scammers are offering sham contracts in Russian oil & gas facilities for around A$3600, industries that provide workers shelter from war due to their strategic importance.

Another is ‘illness’ – fake certs. of illnesses like HIV and hepatitis are for sale for between A$245-$1000, declaring people unfit for the army. Manual removal from conscription databases and fake higher ed certs. are other emerging methods.

Read the full report here.

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Comment by Flashpoint Analysts

  • “Since 21 September, when Putin’s partial mobilisation was announced, Flashpoint analysts have observed a growing amount of chatter in Russian illicit communities and social media platforms about these methods [to avoid conscription]. We have also seen an underground market of fake certificates and other services to avoid the draft emerging on various forums, including Telegram.
  • “These services build on existing phenomena of corruption and nepotism, but industrialise it in a way that simplifies and speeds up the process. Some of them are likely scams that build on the widespread belief that bribes are an easy and reliable way to get out of the draft. The services offered mirror a similar underground market of fake COVID-19 vaccination and test certificates that Flashpoint observed in 2021.”

Fake Employment

  • “One kind of service offered is fake employment contracts. A threat actor on two popular Russian-speaking forums explained that they are able to get people ‘employed’ in oil and gas facilities in Russia’s two oil-producing regions on sham contracts, which would automatically grant them deferment from mobilisation due to the strategically important nature of these industries.
  • “Depending on how quickly the cert. is needed and whether the applicant has professional qualifications, the service could cost up to 150,000 rubles (circa A$3,600), more than three times the average salary in Russia’s poorer regions.”

Illness

  • “Another popular way to avoid the draft is to fake a chronic illness. Russian Telegram groups where people opposing the draft congregate have shared lists of diseases that would officially make men unfit to serve in the army. Threat actors have mobilised to offer fake certs. of chronic illnesses such as HIV and hepatitis, relying on access to electronic health records, similarly to fake COVID-19 vaccination certificates.
  • “Users on the same forums even specified the names of clinics and hospitals where they are able to take care of such requests, while another service combined its offer with a falsified letter from an unnamed Israeli clinic, which would allow the buyer to leave the country ostensibly for medical treatment. The price of these services was typically quoted between 10,000 and 40,000 rubles (circa A$245-$1,000).”

Manual name removal

  • “A more straightforward service is the removal of names from databases handled by conscription offices, which often only exist on paper and not digitally. The prices for such services are typically identical to the price of fake health certificates. Here is what we’re seeing in terms of prices advertised on popular forums.”
    • Removal of a name from the database: 25,000 rubles (A$4610)
    • Temporary deferment: 20,000-30,000 rubles (A$490-730)
    • Emergency ‘rescue’ from the drafting office: 45,000 rubles (A$1,100)
    • Complete removal from any military records: 100,000 rubles (A$2,440)

The Production Team

The KBI Production Team write and hunt down the information security professionals need to know. They present news updates and thought-piece articles designed to provide educational content and insights for the industry. You can reach out with any ideas or requests for subject coverage to production@kbi.media with your message.

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