Someone befriended you online? BI says be wary of new modus operandi

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The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has warned the public against a scam that victimizes people who receive phone calls after meeting supposed foreigner nationals online.

friend online

In a press statement, BI commissioner Siegfred B. Mison the modus operandi the usual victims are Filipinos who supposedly found foreigner friends through the Internet.

The supposed foreign national, who in reality is part of a syndicate, arranges for a meeting and make it appear that they are arriving at the Philippines at a given date.

The Filipino then receives a call from someone who claims to be an officer from the BI and demands money to ?release? the foreigner from custody. The Filipino immediately remits money but never gets to see the foreigner friend.

?Please be advised that immigration officers at the airport are not authorized to make the first contact with non-passengers. It is even more illegal to demand for money from anyone,? Mison said.

?We advise our Filipino kababayans to exercise vigilance with their Internet acquaintances to avoid being victimized by scammers,? added Mison.

As a rule, the BI does not hold custody of arriving passengers unless they have been excluded for reasons enumerated in section 29 of the Philippine Immigration Act. In such a case, the passenger is sent back to the port of origin on the next available outbound flight.

?Excluded passengers are informed of the reason for their exclusion and in such case, they may demand for a copy of the exclusion order. They will not be prohibited from making a call to their friends in order to seek assistance,? explained Mison.

Filipinos with expected guests from another country who get in the same situation are advised to know the exact airport location and flight number of the passenger in order to verify the truthfulness of the claim

?They may always call our hotline at (02)465-2400 to check if a certain passenger is actually in our custody at any of our airports,? Mison advised. — PIA

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