US visa fraud syndicate busted

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) has busted a criminal syndicate engaged in illegal recruitment and visa fraud, arresting at least 20 suspects and seizing computers, various passports and other accessories used for the crime.

CIDG chief Police Director Samuel D. Pagdilao Jr. said the CIDG’s Anti-Transnational and Cyber Crime Division (ATCCD) undertook an entrapment last February 1 at the office of United Star Alliance Consultancy and Immigration Service (USA-CIS) located at Room 803 of the Pearl of the Orient Building along Roxas Boulevard in Ermita, Manila.

The raid stemmed from the request of the United States Embassy in Manila through its Overseas Criminal Investigation Office. Officials at the embassy said the immigration consultancy firm has been providing fake documents such as bank books, bank certifications, taxes of documents, deeds of sale and certificates of real properties and business registrations to US visa applicants.

Thus, the ATCCD operatives secured two search warrants against Manual Inocencio, 47, the company’s chief accounting staff. Catherine Yarra and three other complainants cooperated in the operation with Yarra handing Inocencio the marked money at the USA-CIS office. Sosa said that Inocencio lures victims to work as caregivers in the US with a promised salary ranging from US$1,200 to US$3,000 monthly. Following his arrest, ATCCD operatives served warrants and searched the offices of USA-CIS at the 8th and 26th floors of the building where other members of the group were arrested and materials for the production of fraudulent documents were confiscated.

Further investigation revealed the USA-CIS is also recruiting Filipino visa applicants for caregiving jobs to unknown care homes in various areas in the United States. The syndicate charges their clients approximately PhP50,000 to PhP100,000 as initial payment for their orientation, coaching, and forged documents.

An additional payment of PhP85,000 to PhP100,000 is also charged as success fees when clients get their visas. Investigations also revealed the USA-CIS has been engaging in illegal recruitment and visa fraud since year 2006 using various company names. Under its present name, officials from the US embassy have recorded more than 190 visa applicants who have been deluded by the syndicate.

Pagdilao identified the arrested suspects as General Manager Anna Liza Samson, Ronaldo B. Geronimo, Reynaldo Villanueva, Cris Llewellyn Gacayan, Aldrin P. Guevarra Jr., Leilanie G. Rafael, Rose Ann Bautista, Reina Angeline R. Geronimo, Florinda M. Jana, Maria Cristina G. Cruz, Maria Cristina L. Reyes, Melanie Domingo, Rosalinda S. Kalinga, Niccalyn R. Robles, Maria Elena D.C. Gaddi, Nannete F. Benedicto, Juddie M. Osorio, and Manuel Inocencio. Along with the arrested individuals were the confiscated 22 units of computers, assorted documents used by the group in their illegal recruitment activities and assorted passports of their applicants for visa processing.

The suspects will be charged with non-bailable cases for large-scale and syndicated illegal recruitment, large scale and syndicated estafa and numberous counts of fraud. Pagdilao warned the public to be more observant in choosing immigration consultancy firms in order not to fall prey to such groups that take advantage on the urge of individuals to find promising jobs overseas. Pagdilao added that aspiring migrants must also be aware of the consequences that will befall them when they are caught with fraudulent and counterfeit documents abroad.