Three travel agents under probe for visa fraud

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Bengaluru, Jan 13 (IANS) Three Bengaluru-based travel agents are being investigated by the crime branch for producing fake documents and counterfeit immigration stamps to secure British visas for their customers, police said on Wednesday.

“As our investigation is at the initial stage, we are not in a position to share more details. We are yet to question the accused,” a police official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

According to a statement from the Chennai-based British deputy high commission earlier, the fraud came to light when eight applicants sought British visas on passports with fake immigration stamps.

Neither the high commission nor the crime branch, however, name the three travel agents or the applicants.

“The agents advised their applicants to get stamps to show they were all well-travelled and hide the fact that they had broken rules of their previous visas,” the high commission said in a statement.

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The British immigration enforcement team found the fake stamps and retained the passports for further checks.

“The team passed the information to Bengaluru regional passport officer with evidence for further investigation, as all the eight applicants had applied for new passports, falsely claiming their passports retained by the enforcement team had been lost,” the statement said.

The passport office revoked their passports and handed over the documents to the crime branch to probe into the fraudlent case.

“We are working with the high commission and local police to establish the facts of the case for action against those found guilty,” said regional passport officer P.S. Karthigeyan.

As part of the investigation, the enforcement team inspected premises of the agents and interrogated their customers.

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“The British government takes visa fraud seriously and those found guilty are refused a visa, their passport revoked and face 10-year travel ban from Britain and other countries, including America and Australia,” British immigration enforcement risk and liaison overseas regional manager Samuel Darling said in the statement.

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