When a 20-year-old girl from Ukraine turned at the customs checkpoint to have her passport and visa controlled by the Tallinn Ülemiste airport border police of Estonia, the officer could not believe his ears.
In fact, the young lady, said the reason of her trip to Estonia was a football invitation from a local club.
There’s nothing wrong with a 20-something lady playing football, however, after a quick check by the border police staff, it came out that the Ukrainian lady was there to assumingly take part into a youth tournament restricted to the 8-16 range of age.
The young girl was definitely over the age range and she was travelling alone, with no kid who would justify the final destination. Football was not the purpose of her travel, as later on was ascertained by law enforcement.
It all happened on the 2nd of May, as revealed by the popular investigative show ‘Pealtnägija’ (The Witness) broadcast every week on public tv, ETV.
What the officer had just discovered was a visa fraud scheme.
The tournament the lady should have headed to was the Pärnu Summer Cup, a popular youth tournament taking place every summer in the pleasant resort town of Pärnu.
Pärnu Vaprus, one of the several local clubs of the summer resort, organizes the tournament yearly.
As the investigations went on, it was discovered that one employee of a Pärnu club (not specified in ‘Pealtnägija’ tv package) was involved in this scheme.
The employee had sent already many invitations to Ukraine.
According to Rumori sources, the employee belonged to Pärnu Vaprus itself.
We tried to contact Estonian police and get a confirmation from the PR department, however no reply came back yet.
Upon contacting Indrek Meen (Vaprus club CEO), he said the club will not comment.
The Vaprus employee was involved in a wider organization that aimed at providing visa to non-EU nationals (mostly Ukrainians, Belarusians, Russians and Georgians but also Nigerians and Congolese). The network’s headquarter had been identified in the capital of Belarus, Minsk.
In the Estonian Embassy of Minsk, it was noticed that there were a lot of people registering themselves for going to a very same address located in the Eastern Estonia town of Kohtla-Järve (160kms from Tallinn).
This is were the police investigations started unveiling the scheme.
A similar fraud connected with a sport event was arranged by the organization for karate tournaments organized by the Estonian Karate Association. The fraud took place between 2010 and 2013.
A similar fraud scheme connected to fooball was unveiled last season when a young Nigerian football player was given a fake invitation to trial at Santos Tartu club. He left Nigeria thanks to a visa provided by the Belgian embassy in Nigeria (Estonia has no representation there and visa to the EU can be released by any EU country) against the fake invitation, however, when he showed up at Santos, no one knew anything about him. The club anyway decided to try the boy and only later on, they decided to contact police and inform them about the presence of the Nigerian citizen.