A trio of Secret Service agents, DHS investigators, and West Hartford (Connecticut) police officers have arrested a man who they believe is at the center of a massive fraud operation through which he stole Dell computer parts worth more than $7 million.
The man's name is Mikhail Oleg Lev, 41, of Encino, California, and he was arrested last week in a parking lot in West Hartford.
It was the Secret Service that discovered Lev's operation. Secret Service agents notified local police that a man named Martin Gates had fraudulently ordered two very expensive Dell PowerEdge R940 servers —worth $121,450— and requested they were shipped to a local address, at the Armory Building at 836 Farmington Avenue in West Hartford.
The Secret Service allowed for the fraudulent transaction to go through but ran a sting operation to catch the culprit in the act.
Both Secret Service and local police officers observed how a truck delivered the two servers to a man in a parking lot at the requested address.
After this person signed for the servers, officers moved in to make the arrest, and they found Lev wearing a work badge with the name of Martin Gates, the same name from the fraudulent transaction.
Officers seized Gates last Friday, January 19, while loading the two servers in a rented Toyota.
The Hartford Courant —the local newspaper that first reported the arrest— claims that Lev held extensive talks with police officers and offered to fess up everything if he got a deal to walk free.
Investigators were not willing to make this concession, and Lev remained under arrest and is now facing charges of first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny.
Police held Lev in jail on a $1 million bail, which was later reduced to $250,000. Investigators said they believe Lev is linked to the theft of other computer parts manufactured by Dell, all worth over $7 million.