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.