Third suspect nabbed in British-Russian extortion scam

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A third suspect in an international extortion ring that targeted a French businessman in Pattaya has been captured.

Natalia Makian, 31, was captured by Chonburi Immigration police outside a house in the Chokchai Garden Home 2 Village June 29, five weeks after her alleged Russian and British cohorts were nabbed for allegedly kidnapping Frenchman Laurent Thery over failure to pay protection money.

She was apprehended while speaking to fellow Russian, 23-year-old Alexander Filipenko, who was found to be residing illegally in the kingdom and also arrested.

Makian was charged with conspiring in the extortion scheme allegedly carried by Dennis Zarbodaev, 42, and Thor Fenrirpallson Halland, 40, who were taken into custody May 21 as they stepped off a boat from Koh Larn.

Laurent Thery tells police that this woman, Russian Natalia Makian, was part of the gang that kidnapped him.Laurent Thery tells police that this woman, Russian Natalia Makian, was part of the gang that kidnapped him.

Taken to the immigration office on Jomtien Soi 5, the two were accused of running a protection racket, charging Thery 15,000 baht a month under threat of violence if he reported it to the police.

Thery, 52, runs a halal food-processing equipment factory and filed a complaint after he claimed the pair kidnapped him.

The Frenchman identified Makian and told police he not only had transferred the 15,000 baht to the two men, but also suspended his export business for two months, which cost him 200,000 baht.

The kidnapping came when the pair took him to his home in the Royal Thai Residence on Thepprasit Soi 7 to take his two Apple notebook computers and a mobile phone.

Police claim both Zabodaev and Halland confessed that they were part of a gang of four – the other two being Makian and another Russian who remains at large – and went into his factory, took 50,000 baht in equipment, and forcibly abducted the Frenchman.

Police said they then let the victim go free, but threatened him he would be in danger if he didn’t pay 15,000 baht. The suspects then left for Koh Larn.