Conman tricks migrants with bogus borders

South Asian migrants face deportation after failing to leave Russian soil

epa08037091 Julian Schmid of Germany in action during the Men's Individual Gundersen 10.0km event at the FIS Nordic Combined World Cup in Ruka, Finland, 01 December 2019  EPA/KIMMO BRANDT
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Russian authorities have detained a man who built fake border posts in the woods near Finland to trick four South Asian migrants into thinking they were being smuggled out of the country.

The man charged the four migrants more than $10,000 to take them into Finland but never planned to help them cross the border.

The man, from central Asia, put up fake border posts and then took the group on a circuitous route by car and on foot to make them believe they were leaving Russia.

The four were left to wander alone in what they thought was the territory of European Union member Finland, but was in fact a swampy forest near the western Russian town of Vyborg, the BBC reported.

Video footage on Russian social media showed the men standing in the darkness among fir trees with their hands up. A court in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday fined the South Asian men and ordered them to be deported to their home countries, which were not identified.

The man behind the smuggling operation could be charged with fraud, according to Russian media. “The man never planned to carry out his promises,” Interfax news agency said.

Vyborg is at the southern end of the 1,340-kilometre border between the two countries. Border checks between the 28 European Union member states are limited under a system that allows its citizens to move and work freely throughout the bloc.