Some Ghanaian students in Italy have lost their scholarships after a massive visa fraud was spotted by the Italian Embassy here in Ghana.
Currently, over hundred Ghanaian students in Italy are reported to have been stripped of their scholarships, with many more at risk of losing theirs.
The Italian Embassy in Ghana has always been in charge of validating the documents of Ghanaian students on scholarship in Italy to enable them keep their scholarships.
To get the scholarship, students are required to submit proof of family composition and income, based on tax clearance certificate from Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), as well as an affidavit from the Supreme Court.
However, the scholarship scheme didn’t go very well this year, with some Ghanaians students accusing the Italian Embassy of causing their scholarships to be cancelled.
According to the students, they submitted their documents for validation months ago but the October 31, 2018 deadline has passed and yet the Embassy has still not validated their documents.
Accra-based Adom FM, however, reports that this was the case because the Italian Embassy discovered massive fraud in their visa and scholarship acquisition.
The report suggests there is a network of fraudsters in Ghana and Italy who collect between €1,000 and €3,850 from students and fake documents for them to collect visas.
Apparently, there is an Italian-based Ghanaian ringleader, only identified as George, who advises the students on how to deceive Embassy officials into giving them both visas and scholarships.
They reportedly fake documents, including lying about the state their family income.
“If you state a high income you may get the visa but lose the chance of getting a scholarship because it means your parents have money to pay the fees; and if you state low income you will not get the visa because it means you have no means to take care of yourself while in Italy, so take the middle line,” George was captured on audio telling some students.
Speaking on the issue, Italian Ambassador to Ghana, Giovanni Favilli, said they suspected something fishy due to the increasing number of visa applications in the last five years.
He explained that visa applications increased from about 200 in 2013 to a whopping 1,500 in 2018.
According to him, at some point in their investigations, the Embassy had to fire one of their own workers because they suspected complicity.
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"Italy is happy to welcome Ghanaian students and treat them same as Italian students but we will not countenance fraudsters taking advantage of our hospitality to defraud the system," the Ambassador said.
"If anyone takes your money and promises you a visa, remember that we will verify every minute detail of documents submitted for visas and if fraud is determined you may become an accomplice of the criminal behind the fraud," he added.
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