Tempted by the lucrative offer of chauffeuring in Kuwait, 30 jobseekers contacted a travel agency in the capital after noticing their advertisement in a newspaper in February.
Bengal Travels and Tourists at Kazipara charged Tk 3 lakh to Tk 4.5 lakh from each of them for medical tests, visas, airfares and other costs.
In the first week of May, the agency told them that the flight for 22 of them to Kuwait was at 1:30am on May 20.
In the morning of that day, the agency handed the 22 jobseekers their passports with visas, air tickets, and other necessary papers and told them to be at the airport on time.
But they soon learnt that there was no Kuwait-bound flight scheduled at 1:30am. Then they went to the Expatriate Welfare Desk at the airport only to find out that their visas, air tickets and others documents were forged.
One of the 22 victims, Mozammel Hossain of Sirajganj’s Shahjadpur, told The Daily Star yesterday that they had tried in vain to contact the agency over the phone from the airport.
They went to the office of Bengal travels the next morning, but found it locked.
They later lodged a general diary with Kafrul Police Station against the agency’s proprietor Liton alias Sohanur Rahman and gave a copy of the GD to Rab-4.
On Thursday, a Rab team of the force arrested six members of the fraud gang, including Sohanur Rahman, 35, at different parts of the city.
The other arrested gang members are Sanchita Akhter alias Sanjida alias Dipa, 24, Meherunnisa Hossain, 50, Bipasha Akhter, 24, Shafik, 34, and Tota Mia Mal, 48.
Another suspect Ripon Hawlader alias Sanu, 45, still on the run, said a Rab press release.
Since 2013, the gang has run travel agencies with different names and swindled jobseekers out of almost Tk 10 crore, Rab-4 official and Assistant Superintendent of Police Ali Mohammad Abdullah told The Daily Star.
Some of their agencies were named Air International and Tour, Alif Tours and Travels, Arefin Travels, Sanim Trade International, Ashik Travels, Bengal Travels, MM Travels, Bappi Moni Enterprise and Habib International and swindled jobseekers out of large sums of money.
Some of the arrestees told investigators how they used to cheat innocent jobseekers.
The fraudsters used to rent an office first and then decorate it properly.
They also hired people who did not know what their employers were up to. Then they put newspaper advertisements, providing a single mobile number, Rab officials said.
Their recent victim Mozammel said, “I lent Tk 2 lakh and sold a piece of land to be able to give them money.”
He said he was in Kuwait for nine years and returned home 10 years ago.
“It usually costs Tk 7-8 lakh to get a job in Kuwait. But the agency demanded only Tk 3 lakh. So, I fell for it,” he added.
Another victim Imam Hossain of Noakhali’s Begumganj said all 30 people, who contacted the agency, had been swindled eventually.