As Nigeria is not in the list of countries eligible for e-visa facility for travel to India due to the high incidence of involvement of Nigerian nationals with crimes, including drug peddling and cyber crimes, scammers from the African nation are adopting a new modus operandi to sneak into the country.
Bureau of Immigration’s vigil at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad has revealed that Nigerian scammers are entering the country through airports in south India by procuring fake passports of e-visa facility eligible countries like Sierra Leone, Ghana and Guinea.
At least eight Nigerians holding passports of Sierra Leone and Ghana that landed in Hyderabad were deported from RGIA in June 2018.
“Around 165 countries are eligible for e-visa facility for travel to India except for countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria. During surveillance, Bureau of Immigration officials observed that after clearing immigration, some passport holders from Sierra Leone, Ghana and Guinea are heading to the domestic terminal to catch a flight to Delhi.
This aroused suspicion. On being grilled, they confessed to having procured fake passports from their neighbouring countries to enter India,” said an RGIA source.
The fake passport holders confessed that they paid around 1 million Nigerian Nairas, equivalent to Rs 2 lakh, to brokers for procuring passports and applied for e-visa.
“Those entering India with the sole intention of earning money through fraudulent means are coming through this route. They aim to not only make up for the Rs 2 lakh that they spent on the fake passport but also rake in additional amounts through fraudulent means to carry back to their country,” said an official source at RGIA.
While Nigerian scammers are primarily arriving at South Indian airports like Hyderabad, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi, Mumbai is another preferred destination. “They take a flight that connects to India via the UAE and other Gulf countries.
Due to good connectivity to the South, they prefer these airports but ultimately go on to take domestic flights to Delhi,” said an RGIA source.
Hyderabad Central Crime Station deputy commissioner of police Avinash Mohanty told TOI: “Most Nigerians we arrest are from Delhi and Bengaluru. Scammers have also been arrested from Mumbai. During our investigation, we found that they don’t have a valid visa and have multiple passports.
Usually, they show the fake passport, which will be seized. They arrive using one passport and exit the country on another passport.”