Canada immigration racket busted in Goa, 12 arrested

Panaji, Feb 13 (IANS) The police in Goa on Saturday busted a kidnapping, extortion and immigration racket involving a gang from Haryana, which would lure victims with a Canadian work visa and then hold them captive in Goa and extract more money from their family members and friends for facilitating their visa and ticket.

South Goa Superintendent of Police Pankaj Singh told the media that 12 persons, including nine from Haryana, two from Goa and one from Uttar Pradesh, who were part of the racket, have been arrested for duping an Afghan national, Shapur Zarifi, who had been kept in captivity at a bungalow in the coastal state, while his family members believed that he had migrated to Canada. One minor person has also been arrested in connection with the racket.

Singh said that the arrests were carried out based on a complaint lodged by a woman earlier this month, who claimed that her husband was being kept hostage in Goa.

“Our investigation has revealed that the gang would lure gullible travellers intending to visit Canada and call them to Goa, where advance payment would be taken from them after which they would be held captive at a rented bungalow. A fake boarding pass and passport would be sent to the family members to make them believe that the victim had indeed travelled to Canada or to their desired destination,” Singh said.

“WhatsApp voice messages were then sent from the victims mobile number using a VPN reflecting their IP locations in Canada. Later the victims were made to call their family and friends asking for the final payment to be made,” he added.

Zarifi had initially paid Rs 2 lakh to the gang leader, Sushil Singh from Haryana, towards payment of a flight ticket to Canada and visa processing fees.

Zarifi was then called to Goa and was detained in a bungalow in the Porvorim area in North Goa, from where he was made to call his friends under duress to borrow $20,000, failing which the gang had threatened to physically harm him.

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