Uzbek Man Arrested After Allegedly Using Fake Presidential Facebook Account For Fraud.

TASHKENT -- Uzbek authorities have arrested a man suspected of setting up a fake Facebook account under the guise of President Shavkat Mirziyoev, through which he allegedly illegally collected money from citizens.

The Interior Ministry said on March 24 that a 39-year-old resident of the city of Chirchiq, near the capital Tashkent, was arrested last month and charged with fraud.

According to the ministry, the suspect, whose identity was not disclosed, had presented himself via the fake Facebook account as the chief of the presidential administration and promised Uzbek citizens assistance in solving housing issues or obtaining loans from banks. For his "services" the man allegedly received "fees" from his victims, who transferred the cash to his account.

The sums varied between 50,000-1,500,000 soms ($5-$145), which are significant amounts of money in the post-Soviet republic.

The Uzbek Criminal Code calls for a punishment of up to five years in prison for fraud with the use of computer equipment.

Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

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