Police uncover migration fraud that swindled victims out of millions

The police have discovered a serious migration scam that had been defrauding victims of large sums of money in Bujumbura from 2013.

The application files seized by the police were kept in bags

The application files seized by the police were kept in bags

A serious migration scam by a fake organisation promising people visas to Australia has been discovered by the police after an alert by victims who came to complain, says the police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye.

The police spokesman says “applicants” were asked to pay between BIF 700,000 (≈410$) and BIF 1,500,000 (≈890$) per file. Depending on what the fraudsters could know about the “applicants’ income, the fees could be higher.

“People with high income like employees in government institutions like the Central Bank of Burundi or Burundi Revenue Authority (OBR) who were not spared by the scam were asked to pay BIF 3, 000,000 (≈1700$) or more”, says Nkurikiye. Along with the fraudsters, the police seized 1023 files of people who had fallen prey to the scam from 2013. According to the police spokesman, it is more probable that other files were hidden. “With 1023 files, the defrauded money amounted to many millions”, says the police spokesman.

He says 15 people made of Congolese and Burundian nationalities working for the organisation were arrested, but the boss could not be found. “Six have been released and the remaining nine will be sent to court”, says Nkurikiye.

The phoney organisation’s name is the Association of Victims of Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo-AVVC.

Fake documents to cover the fraud

The application file contained many documents including a fake Australian government confirmation page and a fake document of the International Organisation for Migration.

“Applicants” had to include passport pictures and a picture of their family. Destination Australian cities were mentioned on the back of the envelopes containing individual files.
Nkurikiye explains that since the fake organisation was supposed to operate in Congo, “applicants” were given fake Congolese names.

The police spokesman says the illegal activities were surprisingly carried out in the rooms of ‘Lycée Municipal de Cibitoke’, a public secondary school, where the fraudsters and the files were found. To the question of whether there was an involvement of the authorities, Nkurikiye says that “investigations into the possible complicity are going on”.

He, however, thinks that it may have been easier for the imposters to lie to authorities using the fake credentials they had. “They had documents that could make the authorities believe them”, he explains.

The police spokesman calls on anyone who has been victim of the migration scam to lodge a complaint to the police. “The court will help them get their money back”, says Nkurikiye.

Nkurikiye urges the population to alert the police if anyone asks for money promising visas. He warns the population to be vigilant and not to be lured by promises of being taken to foreign countries. “People should not wait for miracle makers who will take them abroad or make them rich without working”, says Nkurikiye, “We all live by working, that’s how life is in this world”.