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LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency has arrested five policemen, including two Special Branch personnel, for defrauding overseas Pakistanis.

According to the FIA, the suspects, Jaffar and Safdar (special branch), Shamas and Yousuf (Mandi Bahauddin police), led by special branch official Ahmad Saeed Shah, allegedly took heavy bribes from expatriates for verification of their credentials for renewal of their passports.

Two of their agents -- Zeeshan and Amir Salim -- have also been arrested for collection of bribe money from expatriates.

FIA’s Anti-Human Trafficking Cell head Deputy Director Muhammad Ahmad told Dawn the suspects received heavy amounts for verification of national status of expatriates.

Suspects would charge hefty sums for passport verifications

“The suspects in special branch would get access to the contact details of the applicants, who would be asked to pay between Rs30,000 and Rs80,000 for verification. They have made a lot money,” he said.

He said if an applicant would refused to grease their palm, the suspects would leave his or her case pending.

Shah, the ringleader, had also engaged private persons for demanding bribe from the applicants, he said, adding that the ringleader would use a fake special branch identity card carrying the name Babar Khan.

Mr Ahmad said the FIA team comprising Sarwar Warriach, Rana Shahzad, Ajmal and Muhammad Ali Shah worked hard to nab the suspects who had been smartly operating for the last two years or so.

A source said it was surprising that the gang had been operating for more than two years without being noticed by the internal system of the department.

“The special branch high ups need to evolve a strict mechanism within the department to check this kind of fraud,” he said, adding there were chances that more names (from special branch ) would be revealed in connection with the scam during investigation.

Some Pakistani embassies had written to the FIA about the gang’s activities after receiving complaints from overseas Pakistanis.

Published in Dawn, June 21th, 2016