In recent years, dozens of Estonian women have been lured abroad and scammed into marrying immigrants whose real intention is to get visa entry into the EU, an investigative story by ETV found.
Aid organizations say that Cyprus has become a hotspot for human trafficking where naïve women are promised money and love, but are instead trapped into unhappy marriages. Although Cyprus is in the EU, it is not part of the visa-free Schengen travel zone, which makes it harder to reach Western Europe from there.
The easiest way to gain legal entry is through marriage, and so scammers work with human traffickers to persuade women that a life in paradise awaits them. However, the victims often find themselves behind locked doors with their passports taken away to prevent them from escaping, ETV reported.
"They sell illusions, they sell dreams. It’s no surprise that people fall for all kinds of attractive offers from abroad – pyramid schemes, lotteries, Nigerian letters […] It’s all good salesmanship," said psychologist and crisis counselor Eda Mölder from Eluliin, one of two nonprofits in Estonia that focuses on human trafficking.