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