Jalandhar: For reasons best known to them, Punjabis are desperate to fly abroad to earn their living. And they are willing to do anything and everything to fulfil their dream. Every year about 2.25 lakh people in the state seek to go abroad, but only 48,000 are able to enter the countries of their choice through legal means. Other fall prey to unscrupulous travel agents.
92K duped in 30 months
Over the past 30 months (January 2016 to June 2018), nearly 92,000 residents of the state were duped of about Rs 17,480 crore by unscrupulous travel agents. Around 20,000 travel agents are running their businesses in the state and most of them are thugs. Between Rs 15 to 35 lakh are charged from a person for sending him to countries like Australia, USA, Canada, England and other European countries.
These findings are based on an indepth research done by a Bhaskar team, convering study reports of four national and international agencies and 1,200 FIRs registered at 220 police stations.
Investigations by Bhaskar revealed that many people themselves approach the agents and are ready to go abroad through means that may be legal or illegal.
Sent on tourist visa
Sometimes fake agents send their clients abroad on tourist instead of work visa and therefore they are not allowed to work and earn in the foreign country.
Less educated easy prey
The study revealed that nearly half (48 per cent) of the victims were less educated and ruralites. Police receive nearly 20,000 complaints of this nature every month. And this represents only 20 per cent of the total cases. Others continue to make rounds of the agents in the hope that one day they would be able to go abroad.
Middlemen scout for potential clients
The big fishes have middlemen. These middlemen keep an eye on youngsters and college students desirous of going abroad and collect data from educational and coaching institutions. Those appearing IELTS are considered to be potential clients.
To impress the clients, the agents claim they have head offices in cities like Mumbai, Delhi or Bengaluru. As soon as the deal is finalised Rs 10 to 15 lakh is taken as advance to prepare documents.
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