Criminals are now reportedly running several refugee shelters in Sweden, as they’ve realized the lucrative benefits that come with operating the facilities.
At least four regions in Sweden have detected cases where migrant shelters are operated by criminals. Housing contractors receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funding, with little oversight from the government.
“There is a rather scary development where in many cases professional criminals and other unscrupulous people are breaking into this line of business, with the thought that it is possible to earn big money and to do so fast,” police spokesman Christer Nordström told public radio network Sveriges Radio (SR).
European governments often give funding to private contractors to run refugee shelters, as it’s a cheaper option. The money often exceeds what is needed to run the facilities, which makes for a lucrative return on investment. In Sweden, 211 companies share a total of $170 million in government funding to run the shelters.
Officials believe the trend indicates the shelters are used for financial crimes, according to police intelligence officer Linda Staaf. In other cases, the migrants may be used as cheap illegal labor and prostitutes. (RELATED: Authorities Alarmed By High Rate Of Heroin Use Among Refugees)
“As always in a sector where there is rapid procurement, there is a problem with criminal organizations entering the market,” Staaf told SR. “Examples are prostitution, or taking advantage of people in vulnerable positions through illegal labour.”
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