BI says scammers offer to lift immigration blacklists for up to ₱5M

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 2) — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday warned the public against online scams, including one offering to lift immigration blacklists for a payment of ₱1 million to ₱5 million.

In a statement, the bureau said the scams circulate on Facebook and messaging platforms like WeChat, with scammers even using the identity of BI employees.

"There are even some accounts that pretend to be immigration lawyers and legal officers. They create profiles using photos of our employees, their badges, or even the logo of the Bureau," BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco said.

The bureau also said it received similar reports last September of fake employees offering illegal services on social media.

"This is a recurring scam that pops up every now and then," said Tansingco. "We warn the public not to engage with these scammers. Remain keen to avoid being victimized."

Once blacklisted, a foreigner is banned from entering the country and is considered an undesirable alien, or a risk or burden.

In an interview, lawyer Al Agra said overstaying and undocumented stay are some of the reasons a foreigner may be blacklisted from a country.

"[Kapag] ikaw ay fugitive from justice, papaldahan ng embahada ng ibang bansa dito sa atin, on record siya [for blacklisting]," Agra told CNN Philippines' Newsroom Ngayon.

[Translation: If you are a fugitive from justice, you will be flagged by foreign embassies in the country, so you'll be on record for blacklisting.]