US consulate warns public against agents

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Chennai, Mar 13 (UNI) United States Consulate General David T Hopper today warned people to be wary of visa agents or consultants who offer to sell documents or extend assistance to obtain visas to the United States.

The warning comes in the light of the unearthing of a visa fraud involving about 200 applicants from the South Indian film industry.

Talking to mediapersons here, Mr Hopper said the racket which was unearthed by the Fraud Prevention Unit (FPU) of US Consulate had been identified in May 2007 itself.

''Since most of these cases were connected to a film personality in some way or the other, we suspect many more to be associated with the film industry,'' he added.

'We don't know whether they belong to Bollywood, Tollywood or Kollywood, but all we can say is the fraudsters are associated with the South Indian film industry,' Mr Hopper said.

He expressed concern over innocent people being misled by these middlemen.

He said those involved in the fraud would face a life ban on obtaining a visa and the visas that had already been issued would be revoked.

He clarified that those who had gone to the US by producing a fake document would be handled by the Immigration authorities in the US.

To a query, Mr Hopper said they would soon take up the issue with the South Indian film industry. On the type of visas that had been obtained by the fraudsters , Hopper said they were 'B1 Visas' issued for business visits or meetings.

Around 200 visa applicants, who claimed to be connected with the south Indian film industry, face lifetime ban on travelling to the United States after the Consulate General discovered that they had provided false documentation while applying for visas.

Recently, noted actor Flora and a small-time actor from Secunderabad, Jayashree were arrested and remanded is judical custody for giving fake documents to obtain the visa.

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