BI warns OFWs vs extortionists, fixers posing as immigration officers

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2021   •   334

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Wednesday warned overseas Filipinos workers against a modus involving fixers pretending to be immigration officers to extort money from their unsuspecting victims.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente issued the warning citing a complaint that they received from an aspiring OFW last December 2020.

“We have received a complaint sometime in December regarding a Filipino worker who wanted to depart to Dubai under a tourist visa, but was intercepted at the airport,” Morente said in a statement.

“An immigration officer who introduced himself as James approached her and offered to escort her for a fee,” he added.

According to the complainant, “James” claimed that he was assigned as an immigration officer at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and had the capacity to allow the victim’s departure.

The victim said she initially transferred P7,000, followed by P28,500 through bank transfer to the suspect. She again later transferred P39,500 upping her total transfer to P75,000 and attempted to depart but was intercepted again.

“The victim tried to ask for her money back from the suspect but he made excuses about it. Upon verification with our records, we had no such employee,” Morente said.

Morente said they had sought the help of government intelligence agencies, as well as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in pursuing the case against the fixer.

“I am unable to disclose the details of the said fixer, but we received intelligence information yesterday about him. We already have his identity,” he said.

“I have instructed our Travel Control and Enforcement Unit and Intelligence Division to coordinate with the NBI and ensure that this person faces the harshest penalties of the law,” he added.

Morente urged OFWs not to entertain offers of fixers and extortionists so as not to fall prey to their schemes.

“They are sweet-talkers that will entice you to attempt to work illegally, but we have already measures in place to prevent that from happening,” he said.

“Report any fixing and extortion attempts to the police to make sure that they are arrested and they are prevented from victimizing other people again,” he added.

Immigration Bureau nabs 3 South Korea’s fugitives wanted for online scams

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Three of South Korea’s most wanted fugitives were arrested by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) fugitive search unit (FSU) on Tuesday (April 13).

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the three aliens were arrested in operations conducted in Parañaque City and Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija.

They were identified as Jung Myunghun, 38, allegedly the syndicate’s top leader; Yu Daewoong, 38, and Kang Wesung, 36, also a leader of the group.

Morente said these fugitives are high-profile criminals long sought by Korean authorities and Interpol.

Based on criminal records, since July 2014, the suspects perpetrated online scams by uploading and advertising items on online second-hand markets, duping victims into purchasing products that turned out to be non-existent.

Their passports have also been revoked, making them undocumented aliens.

“Korean authorities uncovered thousands of cases—almost 2,600—wherein victims have been defrauded by the suspects. It is estimated that victims incurred a combined loss of more than 10 billion won, or close to US$9 million, from the syndicate’s racket,” according to the BI.

Morente said the suspects will be deported to face the cases against them in Korea.

“Their names shall likewise remain in our blacklist, which effectively bans their re-entry in the country,” the BI chief said. AAC

Korean national wanted for swindling nabbed in Las Piñas – BI

Robie de Guzman   •   April 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – A Korean national wanted by authorities in his own country for swindling charges has been arrested by the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the suspect, identified as 49-year old Kim Dong Woo, was arrested in Las Piñas City on Monday by operatives from the bureau’s Fugitive Search Unit.

Morente said they learned that Kim has been on his government’s wanted list since he fled to the Philippines in February 2018 to evade prosecution on the charge of fraud he is facing.

Information from BI’s Interpol database showed that in 2015, Kim, who was then in his office in Incheon, enticed a victim to lend him 65 million won, or almost US$58,000 for his alleged business.

Kim allegedly promised the victim that he would pay a 20-percent interest for the loan.

He, however, reneged on his promise and fled to Manila two years later upon learning that a criminal complaint was filed against him.

“The Bureau recently received information about his crimes and was informed that his passport is no longer valid; hence, the Commissioner issued a mission order for his arrest so he may be sent back to his home to be prosecuted,” the BI said.

Morente said Kim will soon be returned to Korea to face the charges against him, as an order for his summary deportation was already issued last month by the BI Board of Commissioners.

“His name has been placed in our immigration blacklist; hence, any future attempts to re-enter the country will be barred,” he said.

The foreign national will be temporarily held at the BI detention facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City pending his deportation, the bureau said.

BI warns of illegal recruitment scheme victimizing former Overseas Filipino Workers

Marje Pelayo   •   April 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is warning illegal recruiters taking advantage of former overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) amid the current employment crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was after members of the BI Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) at the Clark International Airport intercepted the departure of an illegal recruitment victim bound for Dubai last April 5, 2021.

The victim, whose name was not divulged following human trafficking and illegal recruitment laws, attempted to depart for Dubai via an Emirates Airlines flight.

The victim presented an overseas employment certificate (OEC) being a Balik Manggagawa, but upon checking of his documents, Immigration Officer Vanessa Icban noticed some inconsistencies and referred the matter to members of BI’s TCEU for further inspection.

Upon further checking, TCEU officer Tomas David and Vincent Serrano noted that the victim arrived in the country in 2019, and possessed a Dubai work visa.

However, after verification, it was found that his work visa has already been cancelled, and he has an active tourist visa.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente commended the efforts of the Clark immigration officers in intercepting said victim.

“I know it is a challenge to intercept such cases as they are presenting complete documents and are in the guise of being legitimate OFWs,” said Morente.

“We commend the quick eye of our immigration officers, which allowed them to uncover this modus,” he added.

In the said scheme, former OFWs whose visas and contracts have expired are given new tourist visas which allow them to depart and work illegally as tourists, using their old OEC records.

“This is an obvious circumvention of the law, and victims are promised that they can depart using their old OECs that are, in fact, invalid already,” the BI Chief said.

“Victims end up working for a different employer, or worse, fly off to a third country like Iraq or Syria,” he added.

The victim was turned over to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Labor Assistance Center Pampanga for assistance.

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