One of the channel's viewers reported that he saw mentions of the scheme in one of his WhatsApp chats.
A user named "Oleg Viktorovich Anikin" wrote that those who agreed will be handed out SIM cards which they would use to register e-mail addresses, create accounts on mos.ru using fraudulent data, and vote in favor of the amendments during the online voting phase from June 25 to July 1.
Those who opt to take part in the scheme will apparently receive 75 roubles (approximately $1) for each successful registration, along with 50 roubles (70 US cents) for each successful vote. TV Rain correspondent Anton Bayev met with several purveyors of the SIM cards, receiving 25 of them along with a promise that the money would be paid out even if he fails to register a single account.
The channel later received a database containing the personal data of the people targeted in the scheme – the majority of them were pensioners. The channel notes that the majority of those on the list are unlikely to have registered on mos.ru before. It remains unknown as to where the organizers of the SIM card distribution scheme got their hands on the data.
Alexei Venediktov, deputy head of Moscow's Civic Chamber and editor-in-chief of the Echo of Moscow radio station, has said that electronic voting applications are submitted to the FSB, and those who take part in these schemes are "taking a great risk."
Russian media reported on June 11 that Moscow authorities intend to raffle off cash vouchers worth a total of 10 billion roubles ($144.3 million) in order to maximise participation in the plebiscite. Similar lotteries will take place across the country, as the government intends to draw in voters using financial incentives.
Russia's plebiscite on amendments to the Constitution has been set for July 1. Voters in Moscow and the Nizhny Novgorod region will be able to cast their ballots online from June 25 right up until the voting date.
If the majority of Russians vote in favor of the amendments, Vladimir Putin's presidential terms will be reset, allowing him to get re-elected and stay in power until 2036.