23 Sep 2021 19:19

Four Africans suspected of arranging fraudulent 800,000-euro transfer of footballer from Danish club arrested in St. Petersburg

MOSCOW. Sept 23 (Interfax) - Law enforcement agencies have detained four people in St. Petersburg on suspicion of defrauding an Italian football club of 800,000 euros by arranging the fake transfer of a player from Denmark, Russian Interior Ministry spokesperson Irina Volk said.

"Officers from the Russian Interior Ministry department for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region, jointly with the Federal Security Service's regional department, have detained four people from West Africa on suspicion of major fraud. Among them are a Russian citizen, a native of Upper Volta (currently Burkina Faso), and three citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria," Volk told journalists.

The investigation has established that the suspects devised a criminal scheme imitating the international transfer of a professional football player from a Danish club after learning that a popular Italian team was interested in signing him.

"The enterprising foreigners contacted an acquaintance illegally staying in Russia. He made a fake passport in an invented name. The conspirators produced it at a St. Petersburg bank, which opened an account. Then they indicated the details of this account instead of those of the relevant Danish club in the supporting documents, which they forwarded to the Italian club," Volk said.

The Italian club transferred 800,000 euros to the conspirators as payment for the player's transfer, she said.

Investigators have opened a criminal case on a count of fraud.

When the police went to detain the suspects, one of them tried to hide on the outside of a balcony on the 17th floor of an apartment block in the town of Murino in the Leningrad region. Police officers only just managed to grab him in time and pull him back into the apartment, Volk said.

During a search of the apartment, the police seized migration cards, seals, stamps, passports, and holograms, as well as electronic data storage devices and other items to be used as evidence in the criminal investigation.

"The conspirators had already managed to spend a part of the money. A sum of over 57 million rubles has been frozen. All four suspects have been taken into custody," Volk said, adding that the investigation is continuing.