A man accused of building a fake border crossing in order to trick and exploit migrants has been detained by Russian authorities.
The suspect was arrested for creating a false frontier near Russia’s border with Finland, deceiving four people who thought he was smuggling them into the European Union, according to Russian state news agency TASS. The migrants, reportedly from South Asia, were also arrested.
The alleged conman, who is from a former Soviet republic country, installed makeshift signs and posts in a forest in the Leningrad region to mislead the migrants that they were crossing into the EU, reported TASS.
He charged them more than €10,000 ($11,000) to illegally help them cross into Finland, the Border Department of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said in a statement Wednesday, according to the news agency.
Russia’s border guard service said the four foreign nationals arrived in St. Petersburg in late November and sought out a guide for the crossing. The authorities did not specify their nationalities.
“The so-called guide decided to simulate an illicit border crossing and make some easy money without actually providing the four with assistance in illegally crossing the Russian border,” the FSB statement said, according to TASS.
When the man took the migrants to Leningrad’s Vyborg District, where he is accused of setting up the fake crossing, all five were stopped and detained by Russian border guards.
A court in St. Petersburg fined the four migrants and found them guilty of violating Russian rules of stay, ordering their deportation, said the FSB, according to TASS.
Authorities are considering the possibility of opening a fraud case against the suspect behind the scheme, the agency reported.