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Internet Mogul Allegedly Fleeced Americans Out Of $196 Million In Text Message Scam

Internet Mogul Allegedly Fleeced Americans In $196 Million Scam

Jan. 27 2019, Updated 10:49 p.m. ET

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Australian Zhenya Tsvetnenko, an internet mogul, has been charged with a massive text message scam that allegedly fleeced Americans out of $196 million.

Tsvetnenko, who was known for flashing his lavish lifestyle online and whose wife partied with Snoop Dogg, now reportedly faces a 60-year prison sentence. As The Sunday Times has reported via PerthNow,

Tsvetnenko, 39, was arrested by Australian Federal Police at his river front apartment on December 20, 2018. The Russian-born internet mogul has since spent the last 39 days at Hakea prison.

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Australian police hauled Tsvetnenko in on an extradition arrest warrant from authorities in the United States, who allege that he was involved in the plot that swindled $196 million from mobile phone customers.

Investigators claim Tsvetnenko allegedly defrauded people by charging them extra for "premium" text messages without their permission. Prosecutors contend that while users typically ignored or deleted the messages, these consumers were billed for the services at a rate of $13 per month, even though they never ordered them.

But Tsvetnenko has vehemently denied the charges, saying, 'I am not guilty of the alleged offenses. I've got nothing to hide. I've never tried to deceive anyone. I'm basically an open book."

The arrest was a big comedown for the mogul who is worth an estimated $100 million and sits in the top ten of Australia's richest people under 40. He spent $1 million on his own wedding to fashion designer Lydia Gaugg that included a horse-drawn carriage.

Gaugg got photos taken with rapper Snoop Dogg after flying to Hollywood for her 29th birthday. Glamorous Tsvetnenko and wife Gaugg were called Australia's version of David and Victoria Beckham-- but the mogul broke up with her in 2018.

The U.S. Attorney's Southern District Office of New York have charged Tsvetnenko with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in 2016.

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