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Matyev v. Kapustin

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 7, 2017

CHINGIZ MATYEV, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SERGEY KAPUSTIN, IRINA KAPUSTINA, MICHAEL GOLOVERYA, VLADIMIR SHTEYN, IGOR ZADOROZHNIY, ISKANDER IBRAGIMOV, TRT INTERNATIONAL, LTD., OLEG MITNIK, G AUTO SALES, INC., GLOBAL AUTO, INC., EFFECT AUTO SALES, INC., SK IMPORTS, INC., GLOBAL CARGO OY, AUCTION AUTO USA, INC., ATC LOGISTIC OY, et al., Defendants.

          ANNA V. BROWN, MARIA TEMKIN, BROWN LEGAL CONSULTING, LLC On behalf of Plaintiffs

          EKATERINA SCHOENEFELD SCHOENEFELD LAW FIRM LLC 32 CHAMBERS STREET, SUITE 2 PRINCETON, N.J. 08542 On behalf of Defendant Iskander Ibragimov

          SUZANA DAS DAS LAW LLC On behalf of Defendants TRT International, LTD and Oleg Mitnik

          IRINA KAPUSTINA 137 GRASSHOPPER DRIVE WARMINSTER, PA 18974 Pro Se Defendant

          MICHAEL GOLOVERYA 137 GRASSHOPPER DRIVE WARMINSTER, PA 18974 Pro Se Defendant

          VLADIMIR SHTEYN 3325 WOODLAND CIRCLE HUNTINGDON VALLEY, PA 19006 Pro Se Defendant

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         This case is a companion to Akishev v. Kapustin, Civil Action No. 13-7152 (NLH/AMD), and both cases concern a “bait-and-switch” fraudulent scheme masterminded and operated by defendant, Sergey Kapustin, and allegedly assisted by other defendants, through deceptive online advertising aimed at luring international customers to wire funds for automobile purchases and then switching to higher prices, misrepresenting mileage, condition and location and ownership of these vehicles, extorting more funds, and failing to deliver the paid-for vehicles. Presently before the Court is the motion of Defendant Iskander Ibragimov to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims against him. For the reasons expressed below, Ibragimov's motion will be denied.

         BACKGROUND & DISCUSSION

         For a detailed recitation of the fraudulent scheme perpetrated by Kapustin and other various defendants, see Akishev v. Kapustin, Civil Action No. 13-7152 (NLH/AMD), Docket No. 272, 358, 395. This case concerns additional Plaintiffs, Chingiz Matyev, Sergey Smirnov, and Igor Zuev, all citizens of Eastern Europe who, like the Plaintiffs in Akishev v. Kapustin, used Kaputin's websites to purchase a car from the United States to be shipped overseas, wired money to Kapustin, but never received any vehicle or a refund of their money.[1]

         The current motion to dismiss is filed by Defendant Iskander Ibragimov, who is not a party to the Akishev action. Plaintiffs claim in this case that Ibragimov was involved in Kapustin's fraudulent scheme because he developed and managed the sham websites for the car dealerships, managed the email accounts that Defendants used to communicate with Plaintiffs and other victims, traveled from his residence in Pennsylvania to the dealerships in New Jersey, transacted business with co-defendant TRT International, and was a de facto owner or director of Kapustin's corporate entities.

         Ibragimov argues that Plaintiffs have failed to state any viable claims against him under RICO or New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act because Plaintiffs' complaint does not contain facts connecting their experience with the Kapustin websites and money wire transfers directly with Ibragimov. Ibragimov further argues that the complaint does not set forth facts to establish the “common purpose” element of a RICO claim, and the statement that Ibragimov is a de facto owner of the corporate entities is an inappropriate conclusion of law.

         The federal RICO statute, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 1961-68, provides, in relevant part, that:

It shall be unlawful for any person employed by or associated with any enterprise engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce, to conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of such enterprise's affairs through a ...

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