//Expat women under threat from unscrupulous agents

Expat women under threat from unscrupulous agents

ANJANA SANKAR, Emiratestodayonline.com

March 2, 2007

Despite efforts by the Indian Government to stop fraudulent visa agents luring women to Gulf countries under false pretences, many are still falling victim.

In a recent case, a 29-yearold Indian postgraduate came to Dubai after a travel agent from her home country guaranteed he could find her an accountancy job in a Dubai bank.

The woman told Emirates Today that she paid Azziz, of Jeddah Travel and Tours in Kottayam, Kerala, a Rs65,000 (Dh5,400) fee to fly to the UAE after he stressed she needed to meet her employer in person.

But the meeting in a Dubai hotel was a trap and instead of meeting her future employer, the woman fled in terror after the fake interviewer made advances towards her.

“The agent said that I only needed to meet the employer in person to get the appointment letter and visa,” the woman said. “He also let me speak to somebody in Dubai who repeated the same over the phone. So I got convinced and agreed to travel with him.” The victim – who flew to the Emirates with the agent and a second woman who had also been promised a job here – first became suspicious when the conman took her to Abu Dhabi immediately after landing in Dubai.

She was then locked up in an apartment along with another young woman.

“Azziz allowed me to speak with my husband a few times. But whenever I asked [the agent] about the job, he gave some vague replies. One day, e he said I have to go to Dubai i to meet one Mr Judai who r would offer me a job,” she said.

However, the married ” mother-of-one revealed that after reaching the hotel room t where the Sri Lankan employ er was staying, she realised it e was a trap. s “I escaped from the room when the man offered me r money and started behaving strangely. I think I was just lucky to have managed to get out of the place before it was too late,” she added. k The 29-year-old now fears . that the second woman who e travelled with her may have e fallen victim. , Responding to the issue, Indian embassy officials said they have taken measures to ensure the fraudulent agent is arrested.

“We have reported the matter to the Ministry of External Indian Affairs in New Delhi and the Protectorate of Emigrants in Cochin, Kerala,” said an embassy official.

“We will also seek the help of the local authorities to trace the girl who is allegedly in the custody of these people who brought both the women to UAE,” said the official.