BI warns travelers vs. 'foreign currency fine' scam

By Ferdinand Patinio

May 21, 2024, 4:09 pm

<p>BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco <em>(File photo)</em></p>

BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco (File photo)

MANILA – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Tuesday warned the public against unscrupulous individuals using the agency's name to scam people.

BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco issued the warning after the agency received a request for verification from a Filipino woman whose American partner was allegedly held at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on May 15.

The American supposedly received an order from a BI Facebook account to pay PHP40,000 as a penalty for arriving with undocumented foreign currency found in his luggage, which exceeds the legal amount.

Tansingco clarified that the BI does not deal with incoming currencies and luggage, noting this is a scam.

He said these matters are under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

Under the BOC's rules, travelers must declare foreign currencies in excess of US$10,000 or its equivalent in other currencies.

Earlier this month, the BI also received a request for verification from a Filipina whose South Korean partner received a similar order.

The BI said the Facebook account reportedly sent a message to the Filipina demanding payment of US$350 for fines.

Tansingco also lauded the effort of the two Filipinas for coming forward to verify such demands for payment.

The public has been advised to send verification requests to the BI’s Facebook account at or via their hotline at +632 8 4652400.

Chinese with fake docs intercepted

Meanwhile, BI officers recently intercepted a passenger traveling from Bangkok at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 for presenting counterfeit documents.

According to the BI’s Immigration Protection and Border Enforcement (I-PROBES), 32-year-old Wang Weiqiang arrived in the country onboard a Philippine Airlines flight and attempted to clear the immigration counter with his counterfeit Mauritius passport and identification card on May 17.

BI records show that Wang previously traveled in the Philippines by presenting a Chinese passport.

Wang revealed during interrogation that he acquired the fraudulent document after allegedly investing US$200,000, but admitted to have never traveled to Mauritius for the processing.

He instead received the passport and identity card while he was in Thailand.

A verification done by BI’s forensic documents laboratory revealed that the documents presented were counterfeit.

Tansingco has ordered the foreigner’s immediate exclusion from the Philippines, and his inclusion in the BI's blacklist to prevent him from returning to the country. (PNA)