LAHORE: Pakistan’s economic woes have provided a ‘perfect chance’ to some known immigration/visa consultancy firms to defraud those aspiring to find their future in the developed world.
On Wednesday, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested the owner of the Global Citizenship Solutions (GCS), which primarily offers services for immigration and jobs in European countries, Canada and Australia, for defrauding at least 200 people, mostly professionals.
At least two top female models, a singer, an actor/host and a Test cricketer have endorsed the services of the GCS as ‘the best’ on its online page. The GCS has offices in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad.
“An anti-human smuggling wing of the FIA Lahore team led by Waqar Hussain raided the whereabouts of GCS owner Zulqarnain Asad on Wednesday and arrested him,” an official of the agency told Dawn.
Action taken after over 200 people submit plaints to agency; JIT formed to probe ‘scam’
He said the FIA also arrested the sales manager, Salman Chohan, and raids were being conducted to arrest all those of the firm allegedly involved in this multi-million fraud.
“This firm indulged in malpractice after a number of people mostly professionals started approaching it for immigration to Canada and Australia,” the official said, adding currently more than 200 people from Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Multan,
Gujrat and Gujranwala had filed complaints (claims) with the FIA against the GCS.
“The number of complainants will swell during the course of investigation. During the initial investigation, it has been revealed that the GCS has fleeced millions of rupees from a number of people aspiring to get immigration to Canada, jobs in Australia and citizenship of European countries through investment. The scam may run into billions of rupees at the end of the day,” the official suspected.
Sensing it a mega immigration/visa consultancy fraud in the country, the FIA high command has constituted a five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the matter.
One of the complainants Dawn spoke to on Wednesday said that he contacted the GCS Lahore for immigration to Canada and initially paid over Rs1.1 million for its services. “The GCS team told me that it conducted a legitimate immigration process and that the entire process was transparent and according to IRCC Canada. However, it sent me fake screenshots of the portal, nominations from British Columbia Canada, ITA & AOR. Despite numerous visits to GCS and meetings with their associates to verify the above-mentioned bogus documents. they always denied verifying,” he said,
“This fraud has shattered me psychologically. I am experiencing depression and also under a large sum of debt,” he said, who is a qualified professional and did IELTS for this purpose.
The FIA said it would start compensating the victims after recovering the looted money from the suspects.
The FIA believes this case may turn out like that of the Future Concerns Ltd (a visa consultancy firm) whose owners Asim Malik and his wife – both absconding in the United Kingdom -- made billions through fraud. The couple’s firm had defrauded a large number of Pakistanis on the pretext of securing immigration and visas for the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and some European countries for them.
Asim Malik had also featured in a video controversy in which former Punjab sports minister Rana Mashhood was seen talking about funding to the PML-N government and passing comments about then chief minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz.
Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2023
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