VFS cau­tions against visa fraud

VFS Global urges travel agents to be aware of fake visa and im­mi­gra­tion scam by fraud­sters pos­ing as VFS em­ploy­ees and en­lists these tell­tale signs that they need to be aware of.

TravTalk - India - - VISA -

In re­cent months, VFS Global, that part­ners with 52 client gov­ern­ments world­wide to pro­vide visa ser­vices, has been faced with a vex­ing prob­lem. A small but sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of people who have ap­plied for visas to var­i­ous coun­tries have been get­ting calls from fraud­sters pos­ing as com­pany em­ploy­ees, giv­ing them false prom­ises of job or im­mi­gra­tion prospects abroad.

Vi­nay Malhotra, COO– Mid­dle East and South Asia, VFS Global, re­veals, “There have been in­stances when the ini­tial phone call, sup­pos­edly from VFS Global, would be fol­lowed up by of­fi­cial­look­ing em­ploy­ment of­fer letters and other doc­u­ments, sent by email. In ac­cep­tance of the job or im­mi­gra­tion of­fer, the visa ap­pli­cants would be asked to de­posit huge sums of money to a bank ac­count, de­tails of which could be found in the let­ter.”

In­ves­ti­ga­tions into the mat­ter have pointed to mis­use of tech­nol­ogy, where fraud­sters zero in on easy victims. Un­for­tu­nately, some un­sus­pect­ing visa ap­pli­cants, rar­ing to start life anew in a for­eign lo­cale, have read­ily parted with the amount. Malhotra adds, “The modus operandi is fairly sim­i­lar: they may pose as em­ploy­ees of the or­gan­i­sa­tion and prom­ise job or im­mi­gra­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties to ap­pli­cants. Using ‘spoof­ing’ soft­ware that masks the orig­i­nal num­ber, the ini­tial phone call shows that it has been made from an of­fi­cial VFS Global phone num­ber. The victims are then asked to visit the com­pany’s of­fi­cial web­site where they can find the same num­ber. In due course, fur­ther ‘au­then­ti­cat­ing’ doc­u­ments, such as of­fi­cial job letters and other of­fi­cial no­ti­fi­ca­tions, are sent to them via email.”

If the visa ap­pli­cants are happy to ac­cept the of­fer that has been made, they are then asked to make a lump­sum pay­ment with­out de­lay to a bank ac­count, also pro­vided in the email. Wher­ever ap­pli­ca­ble, the scam­sters use the veiled threat of visa re­jec­tion or de­por­ta­tion if funds are not de­posited. Fur­ther, they also seek per­sonal in­for­ma­tion of the ap­pli­cant un­der the pre­text of re-val­i­dat­ing de­tails.

With an in­crease in the num­ber of in­stances of such fraud­u­lent op­er­a­tions tak­ing place, mis­us­ing the name of VFS Global, the com­pany has be­gun to take proac­tive mea­sures to warn ap­pli­cants of this men­ace. Malhotra says, “Through our call cen­tres, SMS alerts, web­site up­dates, emails etc, we are send­ing out mes­sages that no per­son­nel or rep­re­sen­ta­tive from VFS Global is au­tho­rised to guar­an­tee a job or im­mi­gra­tion to ap­pli­cants in any of the client coun­tries. Also, VFS Global has cat­e­gor­i­cally stated that ap­pli­cants should not make up­front pay­ments and re­frain from giv­ing out per­sonal in­for­ma­tion to any­body. They should also avoid pub­lish­ing their pass­port num­ber or visa ap­pli­ca­tion num­ber on pub­lic do­mains or so­cial me­dia plat­forms.”

There have been in­stances when the ini­tial phone call sup­pos­edly from VFS Global would be fol­lowed up em­ploy­ment of­fer letters and other

Vi­nay Malhotra and South Asia

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