“This kind of scam would be impossible for us to expose,” said Elisabeth Lager, legal expert as the Swedish Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalvården) to news agency TT.
The 37-year-old was convicted in January 2008 to one year in prison, after being found guilty of charges ranging from copyright infringement to breaking Swedish medical laws and handling smuggled goods.
However, as he was not held in remand at the time of his conviction, he had plenty of time to make arrangements before having to start his sentence, according to newspaper Expressen.
After acquiring a driver’s licence in his name but with his friend’s photo, he convinced the other man to do his jail time, had a new passport made at the consulate in Amsterdam, and fled Europe for Asia.
Police now believe he is living in the Philippines and have issued an international warrant for his arrest.
The scam wasn’t exposed until a police officer, at the prison to interrogate the 37-year-old, realized that the wrong person was facing him across the table.
“We were the victims of advanced con,” said Ulf Jonson of the Swedish Prison and Probation Service to Expressen.
He added that the Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen), in charge of issuing Swedish drivers’ licences, had also been hoodwinked.
By the time the stand-in prisoner was discovered, he had already served a significant amount of the convicted man’s prison sentence.
If he had stayed in jail for the entire sentence without the scam having been noticed, the convicted man could have walked free.
“We would have considered the time to have been served,” said Eilsabeth Lager to TT.
There has been an international arrest warrant issued for the 37-year-old ever since it was discovered in May that the wrong man had been jailed.
The hired man has been let out of jail since the discovery.