Crime: Gelephu police arrested a man and a woman for allegedly conning more than 16 Bhutanese, promising to take them to the United States.

The man, who is from Pemagatshel, was arrested on August 25, and the woman, who works for the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) in Gelephu, was arrested in September.

Sources said that the woman had allegedly approached people stating that her brother, who works as a public relations officer in the United Nations office in New Delhi, India, will process  their visas for Nu 480,000 each.

One of the victims, who chose to remain anonymous, said that the woman convinced them by saying that they will be going to the US as participants of the 17th annual Woodstock Film Festival that is going to be held this month.

“The woman told us that we will be going as members of a drayang owned by her husband in Gelephu and that her brother will process our visas,” the victim said. “We were convinced because her husband owns the drayang.”

Sources said that the woman started conning people by early this year and the issue surfaced after some of the victims approached police when they didn’t receive any invitation for visa interviews.

Another victim, who also didn’t want to be named, said his in-laws met the woman and they introduced him to her in May. He said that he met the woman and the man, who were staying in a hotel in Thimphu. “They told us our visa and job in the US is guaranteed and we believed them.”

He said he paid them Nu 30,000 in May as invitation fee. “I got an invitation letter five months later and they asked me to pay Nu 50,000 as interview fee,” the 32-year-old man said. “I did not pay, saying that I will pay only after I reach Delhi.”

The Thimphu resident said many people paid the interview fee but were never called for an interview.

While it is not known is how much money the two people collected from the victims. A source said the minimum amount victims paid was Nu 30,000. “I am told that there are two or three people who paid Nu 30,000 each but others paid more than 80,000.”

One of the victims, who knew the woman personally, said the woman assured him that they would get visas and jobs in the US and that her two brothers are helping her. “She told me her brother in New Delhi will do documentation for visa processes and her other brother in the US will help us with jobs.”

Sources said that after some victims took the two people to court, the woman said that she is not related to the man whom she claimed was working for the UN office in New Delhi.

Police, however, said they are investigating the case and it is likely to take time as the woman is on bail.

Tashi Dema