A RUTHLESS gang is feared to have murdered at least three women after luring them to bogus meetings to buy and sell cars.
The latest case involves mum-of-one Ksenia Katorgina, 27, whose corpse was found stuffed in a sewer after she went to meet a woman who said she wanted to buy her Audi Q5.
Detectives suspect she was set-up with the potential buyer – who looked like her – then ambushed by two thugs who knifed her to death.
They then stole the Audi and sold it on to an unsuspecting buyer for £6,100 cash, said police in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
The innocent buyer said a “gypsy” woman sold him the vehicle.
But when he saw news reports on Ksenia’s disappearance he realised he had been duped and called police.
Officers found blood stains in the car, which Ksenia had listed for sale for £9,700.
“After the murder, the attackers got rid of the victim’s body in the Ordzhonikidze district of Yekaterinburg, dropping it into a sewer,” said a law enforcement source.
The tragic mum was selling her car to pay off loans, hoping to be able to buy a flat where she could raise her nine-year-old daughter who lives mainly with her grandmother.
Yesterday two men and a woman were held on murder charges.
A video shows one suspect, Marat Ahmetvaliev, 42, leading police to the sewer where they had left Ksenia’s body.
Another detainee was named as Mikhail Fedorovich, born in 1990, and the woman “accomplice” is 31.
Police are probing possible links to at least two similar murders of women buying or selling cars.
The crooked seller of Ksenia’s Audi is believed to have used her stolen passport to make the sale appear legitimate.
It led officers to suspect the killers are deliberately targeting women who resemble one of the gang.
Last month cryptocurrency trader Natalia Ustinova, 36, dropped her two children at school in Novosibirsk then took a taxi to buy a new car.
She was carrying a “large sum of money” in cash which was stolen, say reports.
Her brutally disfigured body was found three weeks later close to the address she went to for the private deal.
No suspects have been identified.
In another case this year, mum-of-two Irina Sinelnikova, 34, from Berdsk, went to see a potential buyer of her Peugeot 407.
Her killers first gave her an electric shock then strangled her and dumped her body, say police.
They sold her car immediately for £1,800.
In this case two suspects, Stanislav Belousov and Dmitry Fursov, were held and are due to stand trial for murder.
One of the volunteers leading a huge search for the missing mum was Rita Belousova – the wife of one of the suspects.
She is not under suspicion and is said to be “deeply shocked” over his arrest.
Russian police say there have been a number of other cases, describing the targeting of women in car deals as “an alarming new trend”.
Women have been warned in media reports to avoid going alone to sell or buy cars in private deals.
One report said: “The main mistake of all victims of murders during the purchase of cars is that they went alone.”