Many Indians falling prey to visa fraud

December 01, 2012 - 2:58:09 am

Indian Ambassador to Qatar Sanjiv Arora (centre), Deputy Head of Mission P S Sasi Kumar (left) and ICBF President Karim Abdullah addressing the media at the embassy yesterday.  Qassim Rahmatullah


DOHA: Complaints about Indians allegedly cheating fellow Indians by issuing cheques without sufficient balance in their bank accounts are on the rise in Qatar.

Also, a large number of young Indians are falling prey to racketeers involved in illegal visa trade and many of them are approaching the Indian embassy for help. 

The middlemen in these cases of visa-related cheating are Indians, too. The visas that are up for illegal sale are genuine, but the companies that acquire them exist only on paper and, thus, have no jobs to offer.

The going rate for Indian visas on what many in the community believe is a thriving black market is said to be ranging between QR16,000 and QR18,000.

The people who ‘buy’ such visas are mostly poor and unemployed youth and sell off some of their scarce assets like family jewellery or plot of land to arrive here to take up jobs. 

The help desk of a community welfare corpus affiliated to the embassy receives complaints about bad cheques and the illegal visa racket on a regular basis.

“We are saddled with such complaints,” Karim Abdullah, the head of the Indian Community Benevolent Forum (ICBF) told this newspaper yesterday.

A lot of Indians doing business here approach the ICBF help desk at the embassy regularly wanting to know how they can initiate legal action against fellow Indians they accuse of issuing bad cheques, Abdullah said.

The ICBF has a legal cell and it is this section that looks into such complaints and provides legal aid and guidance.

Complaints from the alleged preys of the illicit visa trade have also been galore and the help desk has been providing succor to them. “Yes, we do get a lot of such complaints,” admitted Abdullah.

Some such cases are already in courts and the Indians in distress come to the ICBF looking for assistance from its legal cell.

Abdullah was speaking to this newspaper on the sidelines of a press briefing the Indian embassy held after its monthly Open House.

Present were Ambassador Sanjiv Arora and deputy head of mission P S Sasi Kumar. Asked about the nature of complaints from fellow Indians, Arora played it down saying: “Normally, complaints are not of serious nature.”

“We held the Open House despite our pre-occupation with the Climate Change conference where India has sent a large delegation,” he claimed.

Asked where the alleged victims of the illicit visa trade stay since they have no sponsors or jobs here and whether the ICBF is able to zero in on at least the nasty middlemen, Abdullah said their contact details complainants provide were always found inaccessible.

This aside, the ICBF provides food items and clothing to low-income Indians in distress from its own funds and from stocks donated by generous people.

According to Abdullah, rich and resourceful Qatari citizens are the largest donors of food and clothing followed by fellow Indians in upper income brackets.

“There are some Egyptians as well who generously donate food and clothing to the ICBF,” he added

The Peninsula