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UK Home Office concern over ‘visa scam’

Mar 14, 2014, 10:29 AM | Article By: Alhagie Mbye, The Point’s UK correspondent

A problem once described as ‘diminutive’ is now considered a ‘serious concern’ by the UK Home Office, as ‘scams’ are now so brazen that it is ‘causing fear and apprehension’ not only by the people applying for different categories of visas, but with all the stakeholders involved.

Consequently, the Home Office has admitted that they are aware that ‘criminals around the world are trying to use the ‘Home Office name to steal money from people’.

These pretenders usually identify themselves are officers or personnel from the Home Office, and in doing so are ‘using tricks’ to con and steal money from applicants.  

A senior Home Office official who is very familiar with the current situation has confirmed to The Point newspaper that ‘fraudsters are so bold nowadays that they are using personal emails, letters, fax messages, as well as  telephone calls to contact their victims’... Some of them are ready to meet you face to face, which is worrying…The ‘criminals are similarly targeting sponsors and guarantors’.

Just a few days ago, the Home Office officially published detailed information providing people advice on how to protect themselves from ‘fraud, tricks and scams’.

Officials accordingly advised that such fraudsters are targeting their victims not only in the UK, but also other parts of the world, adding that some of them are ‘using fake websites to offer fake services’.

The Home Office also acknowledged that a number of fraudsters appear ‘genuine and authentic’. They can also use language that sounds ‘official’ and pretend to know the applicant and information about him in detail.

As a result, officials clearly stated that they ‘will never contact you to ask for money or your personal details about your application’.

Nonetheless, another vital issue uncovered by this correspondent is threats made by fraudster frightening applicants to send money or be identified, arrested, deported or have their visa cancelled. 

Others claim to applicants from abroad that they can provide them with job offers,  visas as well as work permits, prompting the Home Office to caution that it will ‘never guarantee’ a job in the UK. The Home Office further stated that their staff do not visit applicants home to ask for money in order to process any documents.

This correspondent can confirm that payments for visa processing are clearly stated in the Home Office Payment Guidance Fee. There is nowhere suggesting payment by cash to an individual person.

Accordingly, the Home Office is demanding that whoever is suspicious of fraudsters should contact the relevant authorities.

Respected Gambian solicitors and Regulated Immigration Advisers here are readily available and willing to assist Gambians and Senegalese, as well as other nationals on various Immigration matters.