With borders slowly reopening for Ghanaians after months-long closures owing to the pandemic, visa applications submitted for various countries are at volumes higher than ever before. With this increased demand for visa application appointments, VFS Global has continually faced the issue of scammers posing as employees or associates of the organisation; or touts who promise an early appointment at an additional cost to embezzle job-seekers and innocent customers alike.
Touts could also reach out to customers via chat apps, offering simple assistance such as booking an appointment slot to apply for a visa at a VFS Global centre, for an additional fee. VFS Global does not charge customers for appointments to submit applications. All appointments are available online on a first-come-first-served basis completely free of cost. No VFS Global employee or third party can assure an appointment based on payment.
Misusing VFS Global’s trusted name in the visa space, such scammers also attempt to lure unsuspecting aspirants with the false promise of overseas settlement. An all-too-frequent modus operandi involves a scammer using new software and other technology to clone VFS Global’s web page and mask their phone numbers, so it appears that the call has indeed come from an official VFS Global line. The victim is then asked to verify the number on the official website, leading him/her to further believe the caller.
The initial call is backed by fabricated job offer letters and official-looking documentation sent via email. To show acceptance of the job offer or immigration opportunity, the email states that the individual will have to make an up-front payment and share personal information to take things forward.
Here are some warning signs that indicate a scam
Scammers usually request advance payments to personal bank accounts with the threat of visa application rejection or deportation. They seek personal information under the pretext of re-validating information in the application. Emails about job offers or immigration are sent from fabricated email IDs, usually via commonly used personal email accounts (Gmail, Yahoo.co.in, etc.). Pixelated and out of proportion VFS Global logos are used on fabricated documentation (such as job offer letters and contracts). All communication stops with the scammer once payment has been made.
To make both customers as well as the general public more aware of such fraudulent entities, VFS Global ensures adequate measures are in place to tackle fraud-like messages at multiple touchpoints, including: Prompt replies to email enquiries or complaints, Communicating measures to detect fraud on our social media platforms regularly, SMS and call centre voice messages, Advertisements/posters.
Mr. Jiten Vyas, Regional Group Chief Operating Officer – Australasia, China, Africa and Europe & CIS, VFS Global, said: “VFS Global does not guarantee jobs or immigration prospects to any customer or prospective job seekers. Nor do we ask customers to pay for an appointment to submit a visa application, or to guarantee a visa other than those stipulated on the website and as approved by the respective Governments.
Furthermore, individuals are urged never to publish their passport or visa application numbers via public domains on the internet or social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, as scammers are constantly on the lookout for this. We have extensive safeguards in place to protect our customer’s personal data. I also urge customers to be wary of such touts and miscreants and instead visit our website (www.vfsglobal.com) for the necessary visa application requirements and information.”
Since its inception in 2001, VFS Global offers a host of services by partnering with governments, thereby enabling them to integrate technology to offer better service quality, increased data security, and improved turnaround time for consistency across its centres in more than 140 countries worldwide including the African region. The company has successfully changed the face of visa and government services globally and has processed a record of over 232 million applications to date.
Beware of scammers and patronising touts who embezzle unsuspecting people by making false promises or give incorrect information about our services. We warn the job seekers or immigration aspirants to not become victims to such scammers that prey on their hopes like receiving an easy job offer or immigration opportunities.
As a visa services provider, VFS Global does not guarantee jobs or immigration prospects to any customer. Furthermore, individuals are urged never to publish their passport or visa application numbers on public domains or social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, as scammers are constantly on the lookout for this.
Phishing is a commonly used fraudulent attempt to acquire personal & sensitive information such as passwords & credit card details, through digital means by misusing official credentials.
VFS Global cautions the general public to not fall prey to imposter websites. It is important to be mindful to never share your personal information on an ‘HTTP’ website to begin with. Always look for websites that begin with ‘HTTPS’ when you are likely to seek or share information. Appointments at VFSVisa Application Centres are free of cost and can be booked through www.vfsglobal.com and decisions on visa applications are the sole prerogative of the relevant Embassy/Consulate.
VFS Global is the world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide. With 3533 Application Centres, operations in 143 countries across five continents and over 232 million applications processed (since inception in 2001) as on 31 August 2021, VFS Global is the trusted partner of 63 client governments. The company manages non-judgmental and administrative tasks related to applications for visa, passport and consular services for its client governments, enabling them to focus entirely on the critical task of assessment.