Scammers posing as United Kingdom (UK) skilled worker visa agents are offering non-existent jobs to unsuspecting Nigerians.
A Sky News investigation has found that these job offers are costing victims huge sums of money.
Blessing, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, told Sky News that she paid £10,000 to an “agent” in Nigeria for the job of a carer in the UK.
After she arrived in the UK three months ago, Blessing said she discovered that she had paid for a non-existent job.
Blessing, who now relies on handouts from a Nigerian food bank, said she did not make the application herself because it is difficult to tell real from fake in her home country.
“It makes me feel as though I’m a fool,” Sky News quoted her as saying.
“I would have done it myself but there are so many frauds on the internet [in Nigeria] you don’t know what’s real.
“I’ve always provided for myself. I’m a very hard-working, diligent person.
“So for me to be here depending on people to eat, coming to the food bank to get food, isn’t ok with me.
“There are so many. Dozens. I met a lot here and so many are still coming after I’ve come. There’s a big scam going on,” she added.
‘WE ARE OVERWHELMED’
For a skilled worker visa, the UK government charges from £625 to £1,423, depending on the applicant’s location and extent of stay.
An annual healthcare surcharge of £624, and an availability of £1,270 for the applicant to prove that they can support themselves in the UK, are also required.
Interested persons are required to apply directly to the UK government while providing supporting documents.
Health and care workers represented 86% of long-term sponsored work visas granted and over half of all work visas granted to applicants in 2022, according to the UK’s Home Office.
Mary Adekugbe, founder of the Nigerian Community Centre in Rochdale, a town in Greater Manchester, told Sky News that she has been overwhelmed by it all.
“About 15 of the 35-40 people who generally come to the weekly food bank have skilled worker visas,” she said.
“We are overwhelmed, people are desperate. It’s so worrying.”
Rishi Sunak, UK’s prime minister, has consistently re-echoed his plans to control immigration.
Some of the measures taken so far include restricting foreign students from bringing family members with them, a change in the visa switch route, and a review of the funds needed for upkeep.