The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Consulate tip in visa scam bust

Hyderabad, Dec. 3: Andhra Pradesh police today busted a racket offering fake documents for US visas at a heavy premium. Five locals were arrested, including the kingpin Sheikh Abdul Rashid, 56, a retired bank employee.

The arrests follow a tip-off from the US consulate in Chennai.

Hyderabad police commissioner R.P. Singh said the racketeers had provided fake documents to tourists and job-seekers keen to enter the US. People would turn to Rashid as it helped them cut down on the wait for a US visa. They would then submit the fake documents at the Chennai consulate to obtain a visa, Singh said.

Rashid and his brokers prepared fake financial statements, property evaluation certificates, income tax returns, bank challans and fake PAN cards which visa applicants require.

The retired bank employee would obtain these fake documents from his contacts in Chennai and modify them according to local requirements. The racket had been operating for two years.

Rashid used the fake documents to dupe hundreds of job-seekers and would-be tourists and confessed to having sent 11 people to the US, collecting Rs 2 lakh from each. He admitted providing false documents to 50 visa applicants.

Police are on the lookout for these applicants and have alerted the US consulate about them.

Singh said Rashid would strike a deal with visa aspirants and take their genuine passports after promising to provide them the documents needed to apply for visas. He would then prepare fake documents with the help of his Chennai-based agents.

During today’s raid, they seized a computer, 186 genuine passports, 143 fake rubber stamps and 36 fake documents, including income tax and bank papers as well blank property evaluation certificates.

A special police task force is leaving for Chennai today to nab the five agents who were providing documents to the Hyderabad operators. The special team will also approach the consulate there to find out about the 11 people who have made it to the US. A search is on for 15 members of Rashid’s gang.

Singh clarified that the police would not take action against those who had approached the gang. He said the seized passports would be returned if their owners approached the police.

Andhra has emerged as a haven for terrorists and goons wanting to obtain fake passports and visas. The police recently arrested several prominent operators at Kurnool and Hyderabad providing fake passports for Rs 25,000. It came to light later that some ISI agents held in Jammu and Kashmir had got passports from Kurnool.

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