PHILIPSBURG--Foreigners who feel they have been or are being defrauded by an immigration consultant on St. Maarten are urged by the Ministry of Justice to call the St. Maarten Police Force KPSM Fraud Department. Justice Minister Anna Richardson on Wednesday warned of ghost consultants scamming residence permit applicants out of their money.
Fraudulent immigration consultants, also known as “ghost” consultants, are individuals or organisations that falsely represent themselves as licensed immigration consultants or lawyers to provide immigration services for a fee. “They are accepting money from individuals and they are not submitting papers for them at the Immigration Office,” Richardson said on Wednesday morning during the weekly Council of Minister’s press briefing.
She warned about an increasing number of fraudulent actions registered by the Immigration Department’s mobile team, and by the Minister herself.
“When the mobile team is doing controls and they detain persons, then I am being bombarded with calls and requests for persons to be released, as their intention was to submit their paperwork,” said Richardson. She said she has zero tolerance for scammers. “After consultations and discussions with the Fraud Department and management of KPSM, as well as the Prosecutor’s Office, great attention is going to be paid to persons posing themselves as consultants.”
Addressing all foreigners who may have been a victim of a ghost consultant, Richardson said: “If you have proof that you have paid someone to submit documents on your behalf, and that person has not done so, and you are of the opinion that they have scammed you out of your money, I am encouraging you to contact the Fraud Department of the St. Maarten Police Force and file an official complaint.”
She stressed: “Do not be afraid that this will be held against you on your immigration status, because that is not the role and responsibility of the Fraud Department. However, if you’d walk away from this situation and not stand up for yourself, you run the risk of being detained.”
People who commit fraud are committing a crime, she said. “These people should be dealt with.”
Foreigners who seek assistance from a consultant to apply for residency are advised to make sure that they receive a receipt for the amount they paid. “If they do not come through with what you have paid them to do, I encourage you to contact the Fraud Department.”
The Minister of Justice offers applicants for a residence permit the option of six to eight weeks’ dispensation to await the handling of their permit request on island. For this, exemption letters can be requested.
Persons who wish to report ghost consulting and fraudulent schemes can contact the Fraud Department by calling 542-2222 ext. 217 or 220, or send an email to