Bureau of Immigration warns of scam hitting love-struck foreigners

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The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is warning love-struck romantics about a new scam doing the rounds in the Philippines.

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On Thursday the BI issued a warning about those who are sweet-talked into meeting up for love by telephone.

The scam involves people posing as foreigners looking for new love. Once they arrange to meet up with their would-be love they are suddenly arrested by a supposed BI officer. They then claim to need financial aid to get them out of BI custody.

“The supposed foreigner, who in reality is part of a syndicate, (will) arrange for a meeting and make it appear that they are arriving in the Philippines at a given date. The Filipino then receives a call from someone who claims to be an officer from the BI and demands money to ‘release’ the foreign national from custody. The Filipino immediately remits money but never gets to see the foreign national acquaintance,” a BI spokesman said.

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Siegfred Mison said immigration officers at the airport are not authorized to make the first contact with non-passengers. It is “even more illegal to demand for money from anyone.”

“We advise our Filipino kababayans to exercise vigilance with their internet acquaintances to avoid being victimised by scammers,” he said.

Mison added that the BI did not hold passengers who were arriving into the country unless they had been blacklisted or excluded from entry in the country under the Philippines Immigration Act. If they are held for a prior offence then: “In the latter case, the passenger is sent back to the port of origin on the next available outbound flight.”

Mison also said that excluded passengers were given the reason and could demand a copy of the exclusion order. “They will not be prohibited from making a call to their friends in order to seek assistance,” he said.

The BI has advised all love-struck Filipinos who are expecting ‘guests’ from another country to know their exact airport location and flight number to verify the truthfulness of their claim.

Mison said they can call the BI hotline at (02)465-2400 to check if a passenger is actually in BI custody at any airport in the country.

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