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69 fraud cases registered against Ludhiana travel agents in three months

Spike: Cases also include against agents who were illegally undertaking visa processing for work permits in foreign countries; last year 44 cases were registered; police trying to raise awareness.

punjab Updated: May 28, 2018 14:05 IST
Amarpal Singh
Amarpal Singh
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
fraud cases,Ludhiana travel agents,illegal travel agents
There are many agents operating illegally in the city, and have duped gullible people of lakhs of rupees on the pretext of sending them abroad on work permit.(HT Photo)

Two days after the police arrested one and booked eight travel agents for defrauding people on the pretext of sending them abroad, it has come to the fore that as many as 69 such cases have been registered in February, March and April.

The cases include those authorised by the deputy commissioner’s office, says anti human trafficking cell of the city police. When compared with the last year’s data — 44 cases were registered in 12 months — 2018 has seen a spike.

An official of anti human trafficking cell, sub-inspector Jatinder Singh, said the registration of such cases have increased due to awareness among the victims as they approach the police now. Earlier, people used to live in fear because of the threats from the agents.

There are many agents operating illegally in the city, and have duped gullible people of lakhs of rupees on the pretext of sending them abroad on work permit.

Scope of Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act
  • Travel agents/consultants
  • Ticketing agents
  • Immigration agents/consultants
  • IELTS centres

Only 4 agents in city authorised to process work permit visa

According to the list released by the Union ministry of external affairs, there are four recruiting agents in Ludhiana that are authorised to process work visa permit, along with the consultancy and other works of a travel/immigration agents.

Apart from these four, there are 242 licensed travel/immigration agents in Ludhiana that are authorised by the deputy commissioner under the Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act. “These 242 agents cannot carry out operations of applications for visa on work permit,” said Surendra Lamba., additional deputy commissioner of police (ADCP) (Special Branch).

He said some of the agents, who have licence under the Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act, are carrying out works related to processing applications for visa on work permit and due to the lack of awareness, people are cheated.

“The police department along with the district administration are spreading awareness among the people and we are conducting raids on the basis of our investigations,” said Lamba.

On Friday, the ADCP initiated a crackdown against travel agents who have allegedly duped the residents and conducted raids at nine offices and sealed four agencies.

Lamba said they are on the lookout to arrest the eight agents who were booked. “But after the raid, peoples’ reaction has been tremendous as the police department has received around 25 complaints from the victims in two days,” he said.

Modus operandi of fraud agents

According to the police, fraudulent agents show an easy way out to the people and charge a nominal fee at the beginning — Rs 1,000-Rs 1,500 — to process their file. They keep the passport and take signature on a blank paper.

Then they charge Rs 3,500 for medical test, which is not required at that stage. Of this amount Rs 500 is given to an unauthorised laboratory person, who takes blood sample, dumps it and prepares a fake medical report and Rs 3,000 is kept by the travel agent.

Further, Rs 25,000 is asked for processing the visa file. But that isn’t done.A fake email id of embassy (email masking) is created and then they send a mail to the person that he/she is not eligible for visa.

In some cases, the agents hand over a duplicate visa designed through a software or just show visa image on mobile to the client and then demand amount in lakhs for handing over the visa, which is not delivered.

Authorised agents in Ludhiana for work permit visa
  • Adarsh Enterprises, opposite Civil Hospital in Jagraon
  • JS International, Dehlon Road, Sahnewal
  • New HS International, Transport Nagar
  • Gill International Recruiting Agency, near main bus stand in Jawahar Nagar

How to be secure?

Check whether the agent has a proper licence granted by the deputy commissioner or the protector general of emigrants.

The list of agents with the Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act licence is available on the website of Punjab police, Saanjh app, NRI police and Ludhiana administration’s official website. While the list of agents who can give work permits is available on the website of the Union ministry of external affairs.

If the travel agent asks for the passport, take a receiving from him and never sign on a blank paper.

If you get an email about appointment from the embassy, never reply on the same. Write a new email and send it to the embassy’s id after verifying the sender. If a travel agent has duped you, lodge a police complaint.

Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act

Agents under the Act cannot carry works regarding visa application for work permit. Such agents can sell air tickets, hold seminars, provide consultancy and can process application for visa service related to education, trip as a tourist/traveller, getting medical treatment, arranging cultural entertainment or musical shows, spreading or preaching religion, participating in sports tournaments and other functions.

First Published: May 28, 2018 14:04 IST