The discovery of a human trafficking scam targeting former OFWs seeking to work abroad again has been announced by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday.
The scam involves providing former OFWs, whose visas and contracts have expired, with new tourist visas to enable them to depart and work illegally as tourists while using their old overseas employment certificate (OEC) records, the BI reported.
Beware of New Scam Targeting Ex-OFWs – BI
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente has stated that the victims are lured into the scheme with the promise that they can leave using their old OECs, which are no longer valid, the Inquirer reported.
The bureau has warned that victims will only end up working for a different employer or worse, being sent to a third country like Iraq or Syria.
The discovery of the scheme was made when the BI Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) at Clark International Airport intercepted an individual attempting to depart to Dubai with a Dubai work visa and an OEC as a Balik Manggagawa.
The victim was referred to the BI TCEU for further inspection when inconsistencies in the documents were noted by immigration officers. Further verification revealed that the work visa had been canceled, leaving the victim with only an active tourist visa.
The BI has handed over the victim to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Labor Assistance Center in Pampanga for support.
8 ways to prevent becoming a victim of this new scam targeting former OFWs
- Verify the validity of your visa and work contract before accepting any job offers: It is important to ensure that the job offer and visa documents provided are valid and legitimate before accepting any job offers.
- Beware of offers that promise easy and quick departure despite expired documents: Be cautious of job offers that promise a quick departure despite expired documents, as this could be a red flag for a potential scam.
- Do not rely on old overseas employment certificates (OECs) that are no longer valid: Make sure to obtain a new OEC if you plan to work abroad again, as using an old, invalid OEC could lead to legal problems.
- Avoid working illegally as a tourist using a tourist visa: Working illegally as a tourist could put you in a vulnerable position and expose you to potential exploitation and abuse.
- Verify the authenticity of the job offer and the employer’s credentials: Make sure to research the job offer and the employer’s credentials before accepting any offers to ensure their legitimacy.
- Do not trust recruiters or individuals who promise to expedite visa applications for a fee: Avoid individuals who offer to expedite visa applications for a fee, as this could be a sign of a potential scam.
- Report any suspicious activities or offers to the authorities, such as the Bureau of Immigration or the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Labor Assistance Center: Report any suspicious activities or offers to the authorities to prevent potential scams and protect yourself and others.
- Be cautious and vigilant when dealing with job offers and make sure to research thoroughly before accepting any offers: It is important to be cautious and vigilant when dealing with job offers and conduct thorough research before accepting any offers to avoid falling victim to scams.