A picture I took and shared in this personal blog of mine was used without my permission. And what’s worse, it was my youngest daughter’s UAE Residence Visa and the one who used it was a man advertising his company’s visa processing services!
That’s the thanks I get for sharing helpful information, huh?!
Seeing that he provided a WhatsApp number, I saved it and looked at his profile. Once I had calmed down and taken the necessary screenshots from his FB account and WhatsApp, I sent a message to complain and told him to delete my picture he used. A few minutes later, he said he did, but he still had the nerve to ask what was the proof that she was my daughter.
So infuriating! He actually had the gall, the audacity to ask me that?!
When I checked, he had deleted his profile and the posts couldn’t be seen. I thought that was that, and I started watermarking photos of my kids that were on my blog.
A few hours later, I checked Facebook again. His profile was up again, and his post (with my daughter’s visa) was still shared on several other groups. I sent another message telling him to delete the photo right then and there. What happened next was an exchange of messages that I don’t want to go into detail anymore. But what really irked me was he was very arrogant, and wouldn’t even apologize!
He was even so thick-skinned to get angry at me!
Anyway, as of this writing, he deleted his profile (again). But I’m 101% sure he’ll create another one and post his services, and use images from the internet without the owners’ permission. And join groups and communities to advertise his services. Again and again. He won’t stop, I know this for a fact. As long as they can convince desperate people to go the easy and seemingly cheap (but illegal) way, people like him will never stop doing what they do.
Looking at his post alone, it already sends warning signs to stop anyone in his right mind from even thinking of contacting him.
For one thing, the images he used were obviously downloaded from the internet. None of them (or the sources he got them from) cited him/them as the company who assisted in the process. If it were true that they really did process visas, why didn’t he use the ones they issued? Or even asked happy clients for their feedback to make them more believable? Would that be so difficult?!
And the picture on his WhatsApp profile? His face was covered. Very suspicious, right?
Second, he stated that they could arrange family residence visas or sponsor a domestic worker without the sponsor having to provide a tenancy contact. If they can do this, it’s already wrong, and they are doing something illegal. An apartment under the sponsor’s name or provided by the sponsor’s company is one of the major requirements by the DNRD.
Finally, most (if not all) registered companies usually ask for at least a downpayment prior to availing any kind of service. During the times we renewed our daughters' and maid's visas, all the typing centres we went to required us to pay the necessary fees because of the online applications. However, this man promised that there is no need to pay in advance. Only once the visa is issued would the person have to pay for the PRO service. Normally, people would think this is less risky and a safe guarantee. But, if you think of it, why would his company agree to this? The risk here is you will provide them copies of all your legal documents (passports, Emirates IDs, birth certificates, marriage certificates, contact details, etc). Sure they’ll return these to you, but it’s easy to make and keep copies. So if you don’t get the visa, you may not have spent any money, but they have all your personal information and they can do anything with it.
Also, I don’t think I have to mention the risks of meeting with someone outside and not at his office where he claims to work, right? That's already a warning of a fraud and scammer.
So here’s a friendly reminder to others:
1) Watermark images you share publicly, especially those of your children or family members. Unnecessary marks on pictures will make them less appealing to use for others' personal (dirty) gain. If you can, copyright the images.
2) If you want to sponsor a family member or servant, do it the legal way. Don’t get the services of people who promise to go around the law and provide easy solutions. If you do, the price you pay will be higher in the end.
3) To administrators of Facebook groups and communities, please screen the profile of people who want to join before accepting them. Sure it’s exciting that your group or community is growing, but if it a closed, secret or private group, you are also responsible for your members and the posts they share. The man had shared his post in several Filipino groups, but judging from his grammar and the sound of his voice (he sent voice messages during our exchange), he was definitely not a kabayan.
4) If you see a photo of or taken by your friend but shared by someone else in a group or website and you believe it was used without his or her permission, inform the rightful owner of that image so he or she is aware. This is how I found out, and I’m very thankful to the person who told me.
That’s it. Rant over. Hope there’s a lesson here for all of us.
Has this happened to you or to someone else you know? What did you/they do? Do you have any other reminders to add? Please share.