Dhaka,  Tuesday
25 June 2024

Portugal migration fraud: Case filed against company MD, 2 others

Staff Reporter, Dhaka

Published: 12:48, 21 May 2024

Portugal migration fraud: Case filed against company MD, 2 others

Photo: Collected

A case has been filed with a Dhaka court against three persons, including Probashi Sheba Ltd’s Managing Director Kaniz Fatema, on charges of defrauding some aspiring migrants to Portugal by giving them fake work permits.

One of the victims named Russell Mahmud filed the case with Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Saiful Islam's court on May 5. The court accepted the statement of the plaintiff and ordered the officer-in-charge (OC) of Gulshan Police Station to investigate the complaint and submit a report. The other defendants in the case are the company's business development specialist SM Rezaul and executive Hafiz Islam.

According to the case statement, Kaniz took Tk 3.10 lakh from each aspiring migrant and provided them with fake work permits and fake appointment letters of the VFS Global visa centre in New Delhi. She even asked them to go to Delhi to submit their visa applications.

They complied and went to the Indian capital. They waited there for days but could not submit the visa applications. At one point, they realised that they had been cheated.

In this regard, a victim named Tofail Ahmed said, “I showed the work permit they gave me to the former magistrate of RAB Sarwar Alam. He checked it and said it was fake. He contacted the company officials and asked them to return my money.”

“But they did not do that. Instead, they demanded more money from me. I am a poor person. I already lost a large amount of money by falling into their trap,” he added.

Another victim named Sanaul Islam said, “I have read news reports on such frauds. Now I am a victim of one of them. They told me to go to Delhi, saying their representative was waiting there for me. I went there and found no one. He sent messages on WhatsApp for two weeks, telling me to wait and wait some more.”

“One day he told me that he will submit my application himself and I do not have to be there. I was surprised as I was thinking how a person could submit my application without my passport. According to the agreement made with the company, if the visa application is rejected, I would get back my money. But the managing director of the company, Kaniz, continues to harass me instead of returning my money,” he explained.

Investigation Officer of the case Kamal Baral said, “I am investigating the matter. The findings can be known after the investigation is completed.”

Accused Kaniz could not be reached over phone despite repeated attempts.

Background of the fraud

Despite not having a licence to operate as a recruiting agency, Probashi Sheba made deeds with the victims involving Tk 11.10 lakh each and lured them by promising employment in Portugal. It also provided them with block booking appointments at the Portugal embassy in New Delhi for visas using sniping bots and fake details under the name of VFS Global Limited, a visa processing agency.

The contract said if the visa application is rejected, a 20 per cent charge will be deducted and the rest of the money will be returned. As the visa application could not be submitted, the victims demanded a full refund. The company even promised to pay the expenses of travelling to Delhi, said Sanaul.

After returning to Dhaka, one of the victims lodged a complaint with Gulshan Police Station. The company later agreed to return Tk 1.5 lakh to each victim. It has, however, been dilly-dallying with the refund since then.

Gaurav Pilley, a senior executive at VFS Global's customer care, in an email said through many investigations, they came to know that Probashi Sheba Limited was block-booking appointments using sniping bots and fake details to sell free visa appointments. The organisation also claims to be linked to VFS Global to appear more trustworthy, he said, adding that VFS Global is working on ways to stop them from making block-booking appointments.

Probashi Sheba claimed that it is registered as a business process outsourcing (BPO) company. Deputy director at the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training Zohora Monsor said a BPO company has no legal way to sign a deed with people to send them aboard in exchange for money. “Only an international recruiting agency can do it.”