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Russia’s ‘Ghost Soldiers’: Not a Top Secret Unit

MIKHAIL MORDASOV/AFP/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- It’s a popular trope in espionage fiction to say a unit is so top secret that they “don’t exist,” but for once it was literally the case when Russian officials investigated their own “ghost soldiers.”

According to Russia’s RIA Novosti, Russia’s state news agency, a former defense official there has been convicted of tampering with military records to invent several fictitious servicemen as part of an elaborate fraud scheme.

The official, identified as Valery Sergeyev in the Stavropol Territory in southern Russia, invented several fake soldiers in order to pay them and then withdraw money from their accounts, RIA Novosti said. Sergeyev reportedly stole a total of 11 million ruples, about $400,000, before he was caught. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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