MOSCOW -- Russian authorities have detained a man accused of building a fake fence in the woods close to the country’s border with Finland in order to trick a group of migrants into believing he had smuggled them across into the European Union.
The man set up fake border posts and persuaded four men from South Asia that he could lead them over the border for the cost of roughly 10,000 euros (about $11,100), according to Russia’s FSB border service.
To make it even more believable, the man led the four migrants on a complicated route, taking them along a road before then marching them around a lake in the Vyborg region, the agency’s press office said in a statement. The "guide" even brought an inflatable boat with him, telling the men it was for "just in case."
The alleged conman's plan was to tell the migrants that when they passed through the planted fence in the woods that they were now in Finland.
But the group never made it to the fake crossing -- border agents detained them last Thursday before they arrived at the fake border. Video footage released by Russian authorities showed men standing in the dark with their hands up in the air.
"The incredible adventure of the foreigners in the night-time quiet of the Vyborg woods ended with a decision of the Vyborg district court," the FSB statement said. The court on Wednesday found the four men guilty of violating their rules of stay in Russia and ordered they be fined and deported.
The man who tried to trick them may now be charged with fraud, the agency said.
Migrants and refugees from South Asia as well as the Middle East have often traveled to Russia in an attempt to continue on to Europe. The borders with Finland and Norway have been two of the most popular routes.