Islamic State fighters are being conned by Russian women who pretend they want to become their jihadi brides in a bid to extract money.
Police discovered the fraud after they arrested three young women who were found to have used social media to contact militants.
They believe the trio are just the tip of the iceberg and that there could be hundreds of cases across the country.
The women apparently came up with the idea after being contacted on Facebook by men who were trying to develop an online relationship and eventually to persuade them to join them in Syria.
A police spokesman said: ‘They would complain that they didn’t have the money to afford it, after which the cash was wired over to cover the costs.’
The three girls, from the south-western Russian autonomous republic of Chechnya, apparently used fake accounts on social networks to communicate with the Islamists.
On the fake profiles they claimed to show an interest in Islam which prompted them to be targeted for recruitment by the Islamic State militants.
News website LifeNews managed to talk to one of those girls named Maryam. The girl is at home, but under monitoring of police. She has admitted getting money from three men who she conned into paying her for travel to Syria without having the intention of going. In each case she had set up fake profile.
She said her first victim was a man from Syria who would slowly lead around the discussion of the Islamic state before eventually asking her to join them.