Fake visas: Italian Embassy detects over 1,185 Nigerian applicants
Speaking on this, the SFU Public Relations Officer, Lawal Audu, said many of the embassies, which partner with SFU, have zero tolerance for forgery
The Police Special Fraud Unit, Ikoyi, Lagos State has expressed worry over the unrelenting attitude of Nigerians to patronize visa vendors, which end up packaging them with fake travelling documents.
This was even as SFU disclosed that it has received over 1,185 applicants with fake documents from Italian Embassy, with many of them being charged to courts.
Speaking on this, the SFU Public Relations Officer, Lawal Audu, said many of the embassies, which partner with SFU, have zero tolerance for forgery.
Audu noted that these embassies are mainly interested in issuing visas to credible Nigerians.
Audu, who said that SFU has a good working relationship with American, Italian and the UK embassies, noted that each of this embassy, has its peculiarities.
He noted: “The American consulate general for instance; every day we receive complaints of fake visa applicants. But the most disturbing is the fake visas, fake stamps, both arrival and departure stamps. Most of these applicants appear at the consulate with passports covered with fake visas and fake travel history.”
According to Audu, the major issue is that Nigerians, seeking to travel out, prefer to go to a visa vendor, who might end up defrauding them.
He said: “These visa vendors are everywhere. They will tell prospective customers or clients that they had assisted over hundred people to get the American visa. They will promise to help. And because these visa seekers are vulnerable or don’t care to know how they can apply for visa, they fall prey.
“If you want to know how to apply for visas, just go to the internet. You don’t need to pay anyone or give money to anyone. But rather, many Nigerians prefer to give money to touts, visa agents and visa vendors. Nobody is appointed to be a visa vendor by any embassy or high commission. If these vendors are claiming to be agents of any embassy, or that they have someone working with them inside the embassy; it’s all lies. They prepare fake visa for these gullible Nigerians. Most passports of these applicants are okay, but other things are fake. These applicants appeared before the consulate, but the workers at such places are very detailed.
“They check and see the extent the applicant has gone to, in desperation to get visas. When the visas are detected to be fake, they are sent to us for proper investigation and prosecutions. We have a lot of them in the courts. The difference between the British and America embassies is that in the America, you will appear in person. You be interviewed. But in the British you are expected to submit all your documents through the visa submission Centre.
“These desperate visa seekers will procure fake bank statements, fake employment letter and sometimes fake visas. They put fake arrival and departure stamps and submit. The British sometimes, when they get such applications, will invite the applicant for an interview. After the interviewing, they might be held and handed over to us. For the Italian consulate, you submit application.”
Audu said it has also been discovered that Nigerians also forge health insurance certificate, which is part of items needed for Schengen visas processing.
Audu said: “Nigerians, instead of going to credible insurance companies to get health insurance, because that’s one of the requirements for Schengen visas, would rather give money to vendors, who would go and print fake insurance documents.
“For the Italian, the embassy is inundated with fake bank statements, fake insurance travelling certificates, fake employment letters from multinational companies and fake identity cards. All these are to make them appear genuine before the consulates in order to obtain visa. Some of the victims/suspects will tell you that they didn’t know the documents were fake. If you are given a visa that has stamps showing you entered Heathrow and you have arrival and departure stamps, and you know that you had never travelled, wouldn’t you know that it’s a fake? Most of the victims/suspects are not willing to lead detectives to arrest those behind the fake visas.
“Some of these vendors are so fraudulent and smart that during the transactions, they wouldn’t allow the victims to know where they live or have their offices. Their meeting points are usually eateries, so that whenever anything happens, there wouldn’t be any trace of them. But even at that, we get most of them and charged them to court. If the vendor is a notorious one, we use the victims as a witness in court against them. But we also know that the embassies and high commissions are willing to issue visas to Nigerians who are credible.”
Audu said another category of Nigerians that used to surprise SFU detectives, are what he described educated Nigerians with good jobs.
Audu explained: “These Nigerians want to go to America or UK for vocation or sightseeing, they claimed not to have time. They would employ the service of these visa vendors. These vendors will embarrass such applicants by bringing them fake documents. If you apply for visa and you’re rejected, you can apply again. If you apply with fake documents, you get banned for life. You will be seen as not being credible. Thus, you end up being messed up by another person.”