Immigration bureau records spike in ‘love scams’, as PH eases border restrictions

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 19 2022 03:33 PM | Updated as of Mar 19 2022 03:43 PM

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MANILA—The Bureau of Immigration (BI) reported a spike in a scam targeting Filipinos keen on dating foreigners, as the country continued to loosen travel restrictions. 

Immigration Spokesperson Dana Sandoval said her agency was "shocked" to learn that the scams have returned. 

In a televised briefing, Sandoval said suspects court victims in the country until they get money from them after pretending being stuck at the airport or had issues with the bureau when they arrived at the airports.

"The usual modus is they would pretend to be flying to the Philippines often ang sasabihin nila is to meet or to marry ang kanilang biktima at pagdating dito what they would tell the victim is sila po ay na-hold kunwari sa immigration o kaya sometimes even other government agencies for a varied number of reasons," the official said. 

"Madalas po nilang ginagamit ay sila ay may dala-dala umanong wedding ring or engagement ring sa kanilang bagahe na hinaharang ng immigration or customs or quarantine.

"O kaya naman may excessive money sila na dala kaya ang sinasabi ng mga scammers na ito ay kailangan silang tubusin ng kanilang biktima for a certain amount."

In many instances, Filipinos victimized by the scam find out they have been tricked only after they have given away their money. 

Because of this, Sandoval told Filipinos to be wary of such schemes, and call the BI if they have suspicions.

The contact details of the airports in our country, she said, could be found here: https://immigration.gov.ph/

"Nagulat kami na biglang bumalik itong modus na ito and siguro ito ’yung mga unexpected natin na lalabas because of the loosened travel restrictions," she noted. 

"When we checked the records . . . Wala pong dumating na ganitong tao at sila po ay kathang isip o imbento po lamang at ang kaaawa-awa nating kababayan ay nabiktima ng ganitong scam."

She also advised Filipinos to report these scams to law enforcement authorities for proper action. 

The Philippines in February reopened to fully vaccinated foreign tourists from some 150 countries that have visa-free arrangements with the Philippines. 

The Department of Tourism on Thursday said it hoped the country could welcome all foreign travelers by April