Arrests made in US visa racket

Gelephu police have arrested a man and a woman who were collecting money from prospective Bhutanese ‘clients’ with the promise of getting them visas to the United States.

At the time of their arrest the man had collected Nu 950,000 and the woman Nu 148,500 from 19 prospective clients.

The man, 23 is from Sidpa, Dagana, and the woman, 33, is from Khesing, Trashigang, and an employee of the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) in Gelephu.

According to information gathered by police, the woman met the man at New Delhi in March this year when she went to apply for the US visa in New Delhi. The man is believed to have introduced himself as a UN Public Relation officer based in Delhi and showed her two white cars as his duty vehicles.

In Delhi, he helped her correctly fill the DS 160 form to complete her biometric processes for the visa interview. Since then they maintained regular contact over phone and the Wechat app.

The Bhutanese clients were to be sent to US as part of cultural troupe in the name of a Drayang in Gelephu. The clients were to act as members of the cultural troupe and attend the Woodstock Film Festival in New York, scheduled for October 2016. Thereafter, it was up to the clients if they want to stay back legally or illegally.

In April the first two clients paid the woman Nu 91,000 which was remitted to the man’s account. He also advised her to get more clients so that all of them could be sent together, thereby minimising expenses.

The woman got 17 clients and kept in touch with all of them through Wechat on a group forum called ‘Film Festival’. She also introduced the man to the clients as her brother.

Each client agreed to pay Nu 450,000 for the visa of which, Nu 30,000 would be a non-refundable initial deposit and Nu 50,000 would have to be paid after receiving the invitation letter. The balance amount was to be paid after confirmation of visa.

A letter of invitation, written to the US Embassy in Delhi by Co-founder and ED of Woodstock Film Festival in New York inviting the cultural troupe was sent to the woman. Police investigation revealed the invitation letter was forged

Police records show that the man was arrested twice by Thimphu police in connection with theft and was convicted for a month and a year respectively.

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