He Put Up Fake Border Signs. Then He Took Them to 'Finland'

Con man arrested for swindling migrants, dumping them in Russian forest instead of the EU
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2019 10:00 AM CST

(Newser) – They thought they'd found a new life in Finland—but they were really just wandering in circles in a Russian forest. The BBC reports four men from South Asia forked over more than $11,000 each to a man they thought was going to provide them safe passage to the Scandinavian country via Russia, a common path for asylum-seekers looking for a way into the European Union. But the supposed smuggler "never planned to carry out his promises," says the Interfax news agency via the AFP, instead perpetrating what Russian authorities say was a somewhat elaborate hoax. That trickery involved erecting fake border posts making it appear they were entering Finland, when in reality, they were just "crossing over" into more of Russia on Nov. 28.

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When the men reached a real Russian border post in Vyborg, they were informed they were still in Russia and subsequently detained. Video of their arrest is said to show them in the dark woods, their hands in the air. "The incredible adventures of the foreigners in the stillness of the night ended" in court, the Russian border guard service said in a statement, per the Telegraph. The four hopeful migrants were issued fines and ordered Wednesday to be deported. The man who smuggled them into "Finland," IDed as "a citizen of one of the former Soviet Union republics," has been arrested and is now looking at fraud charges. The four men were said to have been from Sri Lanka, reports the Komsomolskaya Pravda via the Telegraph. (Read more Russia stories.)

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