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52 Foreigners Caught in Immigration Scam: Fraudulent Papers Exposed



52 Foreigners Caught in Immigration Scam: Fraudulent Papers Exposed
Image source: Defi Media

The Passport and Immigration Office’s Tracking Team foiled an attempt at illegal immigration on Monday, March 25, 2024, exposing a well-planned strategy used by some foreign nationals to extend their stay in Mauritius illegally.

52 foreigners staying in Mauritius illegally were arrested – they had falsified documents displaying the official coat of arms of the state, the immigration services stamp, and even the signature of a senior officer who has not worked in immigration for around two years. They presented these fake papers to their respective employers to justify their prolonged presence in Mauritius.

Authentic-looking Documents at a Glance

Le Défi Quotidien had access to the documents in question. At first glance, they appear authentic, suggesting that this meticulous work was likely done by a professional. The official Republic coat of arms is carefully positioned, along with the date, reference, full address, the distinctive navy blue PIO stamp, and the signature of the officer in question.

However, one detail revealed the deception: the paper weight. “The paper used by the immigration services does not have the same texture,” noted an officer from the PIO’s Tracking Team when they confronted a Malagasy individual in possession of one of these fake documents. Another African national residing in the country also had an identical replica.

These discoveries lead immigration department officers to suspect that IT or graphic professionals may be involved in producing fake documents bearing the Republic’s coat of arms. This activity is clearly illegal and subject to severe legal penalties due to its fraudulent nature, prompting the CCID’s involvement on Monday.

In a statement, Narendrakumar Boodhram, PIO Director General, confirmed that this is the new ruse employed by some foreign nationals to stay in Mauritius illegally. “We have observed an increase in the use of fake documents, particularly among African nationals, especially Nigerians, who present them to their respective employers to claim a legality that does not exist,” he explained.

This strategy, according to the PIO Director General, constitutes a serious offense punishable by severe legal penalties. He stated that the investigation aims to swiftly identify the perpetrators of this fraud.

A question arises in light of these cases. Is there complicity between foreign nationals and some immigration officers? “Absolutely no! The documents bear the name and signature of an officer who is no longer in service. Everything indicates it is a professional job, possibly involving the copy-paste method,” rebutted Narendrakumar Boodhram.

He added that it is not the first time such fraud has been uncovered. “A similar case was reported a few months ago. Unfortunately, we see that these fake documents are still circulating,” noted the PIO Director General.

Intensification of Interventions in Hotels

But what motivates these individuals to possess fake documents and stay illegally in Mauritius? “They often seek easy employment in the black market, particularly in the hotel sector as waiters. The Tracking Team agents have conducted operations in two hotels,” explained Narendrakumar Boodhram.

He then announced that PIO agents will conduct joint operations with Labor Ministry officials. The immigration services have already received official correspondence from the ministry in this regard. “We will intensify our operations in hotels. If necessary, we will request search warrants,” he warned. He stressed that hotel establishment owners, through the Tourism Ministry, have been instructed not to employ illegal immigrants.

Detained Illegal Immigrants at Pirate Wing and CYC

The 52 illegal immigrants apprehended during Monday morning’s crackdown operation have been detained: men at Pirate Wing and women at the Correctional Youth Centre. This decision was due to the lack of space at the Chaland Detention Centre.

“We have submitted a request to the Port-Louis court and prison system officials. They have agreed to allocate additional space to accommodate the illegal immigrants pending repatriation. Instead of being placed in detention cells, they will be incarcerated,” explained Narendrakumar Boodhram.

He highlighted that some of the captured foreign women are strongly suspected of engaging in prostitution in Mauritius. “The illegal immigrants were apprehended for illegal stay, under the Immigration Act. An investigation will be launched to determine if they were victims of human trafficking. Their files will then be forwarded to CCID investigators,” he added, underscoring the broader implications of these arrests.

What about European women arriving in Mauritius with tourist visas who end up engaging in prostitution once on the island? Narendrakumar Boodhram affirmed that immigration officers at SSR Plaisance Airport have been formally instructed to increase their vigilance towards European women disembarking in Mauritius.

Source: Defi Media

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