BI intercepts 13 holders of fake airline tickets bound for HK

Marje Pelayo   •   July 16, 2019   •   1498

FILE PHOTO: Ninoy Aquino International Airport

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has warned the public to be wary of scammers following the arrest of 13 Filipino passengers bound for Hong Kong caught in possession of fake airline tickets at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

BI Port Operations Division Chief Grifton Medina said the passengers were intercepted last Monday (July 8) at the airline counter of Cathay Pacific at the NAIA 3 terminal.

According to the BI, the passengers were scammed and only found out about it at the airport after the attending airline personnel discovered that their tickets were not encoded in their system.

“It seems that they are victims of a scammers who prey on the public by selling fake tickets at cheap prices to entice their victims,” Medina said.

According to the initial investigation by the BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU), the passengers pointed at one of their woman companions as the person who enticed them to buy the plane tickets.

The woman, however, said she was not aware that the tickets were bogus.

She also couldn’t present credentials of the person who offered her the bogus tickets whom she knew only by the name ‘Jennifer’.

BI TCEU Chief Timotea Barizo confirmed also that their hotel bookings were cancelled as well.

“They were also allegedly told to wear T-shirts bearing the name of a herbal product during their trip and were instructed to take off the shirts after they are cleared by Immigration,” said Barizo.

“It was done to make it seem like they were on an official company trip abroad. Why would they be instructed to misrepresent themselves if there was no ill intention?” she added.

Barizo suspects that they have been victimized by illegal recruiters who promised jobs abroad.

All 13 passengers were eventually turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for assistance and further investigation.

Public warned against scammers using fake BOC emails, web links

Robie de Guzman   •   August 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Friday warned the public against unscrupulous individuals taking advantage of initiatives to promote the use of online systems amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic by posing as bureau personnel to extort money from their victims.

The BOC issued the warning following reports of people claiming to have communicated with individuals allegedly from the bureau who in turn ask payment for the release of their packages.

The bureau said these scammers are using fake Bureau of Customs e-mail accounts and websites as means to swindle their victims.

The BOC reiterated that the official website of the Bureau of Customs is http://customs.gov.ph and it is using e-mail address boc.cares@customs.gov.ph to cater to stakeholder concerns.

The agency said it is now coordinating with the National Bureau of Investigation to take down these fake accounts and bring the scammers to justice.

It also reminded the public to remain vigilant against criminals who take advantage of technology to commit unscrupulous acts.

BI main building closes again for disinfection after 3 staffers contract COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   July 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced that its main office building in Intramuros, Manila will be closed again for disinfection on Monday (July 27) and Tuesday (July 28).

This, after three employees of the agency tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said that during the two-day suspension of operations, all BI employees at the main office will be required to undergo rapid antibody tests and that those with positive results will be subjected to confirmatory swab tests for the virus.

The official added that all officials and employees at the main office be made to undergo rapid testing every month as recommended by BI COVID-19 Task Force Chair Deputy Commissioner Aldwin Alegre.

“Given the high number of people who troop to our main building everyday to transact business, we have to take all precautionary measures to prevent the transmission of this virus in our office premises,” Morente said.

The BI Chief added that periodic disinfection of the building’s premises will be conducted to help prevent further transmission of COVID-19.

BI reminds Filipinos non-essential foreign travel is banned anew

Robie de Guzman   •   July 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday reminded Filipinos that non-essential travel overseas is prohibited anew following the government’s decision to re-impose the outbound travel restriction.

In a statement, the bureau said it is re-implementing the ban on overseas travel and that immigration personnel in international ports in the country have already been instructed to impose the restriction as ordered by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“Again, only essential travel of outbound Filipinos will be allowed. Non-essential travel for leisure and tourism purposes will not be permitted,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said the task force decided to reinstate the ban because only one company agreed to provide travel and health insurance coverage in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

It can be recalled that the task force lifted the restriction on non-essential foreign travel last July 6 subject to conditions, including having a travel and health insurance to cover rebooking, accommodation if they got stranded or their trip got delayed, and hospitalization expenses in case they contracted the viral respiratory disease.

The bureau, however, said it will still continue to allow the departure of foreigners and Filipinos who are overseas workers, holders of study visas, and permanent residents in their country of destination.

BI Port Operations Acting Chief Grifton Medina said essential travel will be permitted to those who are going abroad for medical and humanitarian reasons, and for business and work-related purposes.

He said outbound Filipino travelers must present to immigration officers documents and other proof about the purpose of their travel in order to prove that their trip is really essential.

“However, passengers with bookings until July 20 would still be allowed to leave for non-essential trips abroad,” he added.

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