Mar 26, 2023 - World

DOJ charges alleged Russian spy who used fake identity to enter U.S.

Signage outside the US Department of Justice (DOJ) headquarters in Washington, DC, US, on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023.

Signage outside the Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 17. Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Department of Justice has announced charges against a Russian national who is accused of using a false identity to enter the U.S. and obtain information from Americans.

Driving the news: Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov, 37, was charged Friday for acting as an agent of a foreign power, visa fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud and other charges, the Department of Justice said.

  • Cherkasov served as an agent for a Russian intelligence service under the Brazilian alias of Victor Muller Ferreira, per the DOJ.
  • He started acting as an agent in 2012 in Brazil before moving to the U.S. in 2018 after he was admitted to a graduate program in Washington, D.C, the Justice Department said.
  • "While in the United States, Cherkasov obtained information about U.S. persons that he passed to his [Russian Intelligence Service] handlers," per the DOJ.

Zoom in: Cherkasov allegedly sought information from Americans about their views toward a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.

  • "I was working with my contacts … to find out what the academic community, political advisors and analysts think about the recent Russian military build-up near the Ukrainian border," Cherkasov allegedly wrote in one message in Nov. 2021, per the criminal complaint filed Friday.
  • "Especially I was aiming to find out what [is] their advice to the administration," he allegedly said in the message.

The big picture: The Netherlands' security service last year foiled a Russian plan for Cherkasov to use a false identity to infiltrate the International Criminal Court (ICC) through an internship.

  • Cherkasov was denied entry to the Netherlands and was declared an unwanted alien and sent back to Brazil.
  • Cherkasov is currently incarcerated in Brazil on fraud charges, per the DOJ.

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