Modus operandi: abusive recruitment
Abusive recruitment is one of the key risk factors for labour exploitation and trafficking. This includes collecting excessive or made-up fees for securing the job, for travel documents and "service costs" etc. As a result, the worker may become indebted and more vulnerable to further exploitation.
Key features:
  • Migrant workers may be recruited by the employers themselves or by an intermediary, sometimes also referred to as a middleman who may demand illegal recruitment fees or charge inflated costs for their services.
  • The fees can also be indirectly charged e.g., in the form of wage deductions.
  • According to the Helsinki Police Department trafficking unit, the majority of migrant workers from so-called developing countries pay a recruitment fee to get to Finland. These fees have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, and can even range from 10 000 to 25 000 EUR.

Exploitation in the agricultural sector in Finland

In 2022 a criminal investigation was launched in the agricultural sector in Närpiö, where the suspected middlemen reportedly charged €10 000–20 000 from tens of Vietnamese migrant workers to secure a job in the greenhouse sector in Finland. After arriving in the country, the workers were accommodated in crowded, isolated apartments, and had few opportunities to change their living and working conditions. The suspects involved in the investigation include a Vietnamese couple and two local greenhouse entrepreneurs, as well as tens of other suspects. (YLE 17.2.2022; YLE 1.4.2022; YLE 14.4.2022; YLE 17.11.2022.)

The police also completed a pre-trial investigation into human trafficking in the same area. In the trafficking case, a greenhouse entrepreneur and his Vietnamese accomplice are suspected of trying to find and transport a person from Vietnam to Finland to be sexually exploited by the greenhouse entrepreneur. Both suspects deny being guilty of trafficking. (HS 26.4.2023.)

Case example