BI warns public anew vs. online love scams

MANILA The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Wednesday again warned Filipino women against online love scams as the bureau is also being used by syndicates.

BI spokesperson Dana Krizia Sandoval said the scheme involved foreigners befriending�and often eventually courting�Filipinas they meet online. The foreigners would even send small gifts to the Filipina and her family to earn their trust.

"These scammers pretending to be foreign nationals would usually arrange a meet-up, and make it seem like they are flying in to the Philippines. Upon their supposed arrival, the victim will receive a call from someone pretending to be an Immigration officer, explaining that the foreign national is in trouble and demanding that money be sent right away. After sending the amount, the victim loses contact with said foreigner," she said in a statement.

"Immigration officers are not authorized to make the first contact to non-passengers during their tour of duty. It is even more illegal to demand money from anyone," Sandoval added.

Under the rules, the BI only holds custody of arriving foreigners in the airport when they are denied entry. If excluded, a foreigner is sent back to his port of origin on the next available outbound flight.

The BI official issued the warning after receiving reports that several Filipinas were victimized by syndicates in Cebu.

We heard of a victim paying as much as PHP40,000 to the scammer, and she only started doubting the story when he asked for another PHP60,000, she said.

Just this Monday, we received information that another victim paid PHP18,000 to the syndicate for the release of a foreign national, who, upon verification, does not exist, Sandoval added.

Meanwhile, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente urged the public to be vigilant against unscrupulous individuals.

Exercise vigilance to avoid being victimized, he said.

"As these fraudulent activities are becoming noticeably numerous, the BI strongly warns the public of such motives, especially from Internet acquaintances," he said.

The BI advised Filipinos with expected guests from another country who get in the same situation to know the exact airport location and the flight number of the passenger to verify the veracity of the claim.

For verification, the public may call the BI's hotline at (02) 465-2400, or contact the immigration office in the airport involved, the list may be seen on their website (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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