CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — The Department of Tourism in Central Luzon has warned the public about an “instant visa” racket and called as “fraudulent and utter falsehoods” reports that some travel agencies exert “inside influence” at the United States Embassy in Manila.

Ronaldo Tiotuico, DOT regional director, issued the warning on Saturday as complaints mounted from victims of unscrupulous travel agencies in Central Luzon.

Without naming the agencies, Tiotuico said these pried on Filipinos who wanted to visit the US.

“The modus operandi of these travel agencies is to glib-talk their clients into believing that they have influence or contacts inside the US Embassy to expedite and even ensure the release of their visas in no time at all,” he said.

He said once the client gives in, the travel agency operator convinces him to advance P100,000 for processing of his documents, like income tax return, business permits, land titles and bank deposits certification.

After a week or two, the agent returns to the client, gets P200,000 more allegedly to pay off the services of lawyers or contacts in the embassy.

Tiotuico has also advised US-bound travelers to seek advice from the DOT regional office or any DOT-accredited travel agencies for visa application procedures and other requirements.