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Dhaka Tribune

Corrupt government officials involved in Schengen visa fraud racket

Update : 19 Apr 2018, 11:36 PM
Police have uncovered the involvement of corrupt government officials of the Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry and the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) with a fraud gang which produced fake Schengen visas. According to the police sources, the gang had defrauded over 500 people in the last five years, and left many destitute by exploiting their dreams of travelling to Europe. The information was unearthed during the initial interrogation of four members of the fraud gang, who were arrested from Dhaka’s Uttara area on early Tuesday. The arrestees were identified as Jiyaul Haque Jewel, Jakariya Mahamud, Mahbubur Rahman, and Mamun Hossain. At the time of arrest, 14 fake Schengen visas, Bangladeshi passports, counterfeit bank account details, a large number of stickers for visa preparation, fake invitation letters for North Cyprus, bank guarantee papers, computers, scanners, printers, and other accessories for making fake visas were recovered from their possession. Sources close to the investigation said corrupt officials of the Expatriates’ Welfare Ministry and CAAB play an important role at the airport. Expatriates’ Welfare Ministry officials who are part of the gang would approve passports of fraud victims and provide security cards, while CAAB officials arranged boarding passes. Corrupt officials of the Expatriates’ Welfare Ministry take Tk15-20,000 from each client, while the CAAB officials may take up to Tk70,000. Police refused to disclose the names of the corrupt government officials as they are still under investigation. Dhaka Metropolitan Police Detective Branch Deputy Commissioner (North) Moshiur Rahman told the Dhaka Tribune: “This gang has been embezzling money from the general people with fake Schengen visas for a long time. The fake visas are so perfect it is almost to impossible to tell they are forged by looking at them with the naked eye.” He added that the gang was cashing in on the illiteracy and desperation of unemployed citizens in densely populated Bangladesh. Among the arrestees, Mamun was responsible for forging the visas, while Jakariya and Jewel gathered clients, and Mahbub provided “consultancy services.” Although it would take a mere five minutes to prepare the fake visas, which were readied beforehand, the fraud gang would take various documents from victims to take up time and give the appearance that a real visa was being processed. Earlier in a press briefing on Tuesday, DMP Joint Commissioner (DB) Abdul Baten said: “Advertisements were published offering Schengen visas for Europe while the necessary documents were taken from the clients for visa processing. A significant amount was charged to the clients in the name of visa processing.” “After providing the fake visa, the gang members would inform the victim of the flight number and date of travel. However, they would later say the flight schedule had changed and then disappear with the client’s money.”
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