The National Police has proposed fines of up to 40,000 euros for eight agencies and call centers in Bizkaia that hoarded previous appointments for immigration procedures and asked between 30 and 50 euros from those who needed to do this type of procedure, despite the fact that the appointment is free.
1,200 people came to hire the services
Investigators believe that some 1,200 people came to hire the irregular services of these agencies and call centers, and that another 10,000 people who intended to carry out procedures in police units were harmed by this action, according to a note from the Ministry of the Interior released by the Delegation of the Government in the Basque Country.
The investigations into this case began when the agents discovered that the system for obtaining an appointment was saturated due to the “illegitimate practices of some establishments open to the public, such as professional offices and call centers.”
The modus operandi consisted of the use of people who were dedicated, 24 hours a day and through a computer application, to monopolize almost all the appointments that the computer system offered to carry out immigration procedures in police units.
In this way, and in exchange for an economic consideration that could range between 30 and 50 euros, citizens were forced to require the services of these agencies and call centers to get an appointment that is free.
Agents of the Provincial Brigade of Foreigners and Borders of Bilbao carried out an operation this year, in two phases, with various inspections in the premises that allegedly saturated the computer platform for the previous appointment.
It is the platform enabled for foreign citizens who wish to carry out documentary procedures, such as the issuance or renewal of their documents, asylum applications, or invitation letters, to obtain a prior appointment.
First part of the operation
Last May, a first part of the operation was carried out in which police agents, together with officials from the Bizkaia Labor and Social Security Inspectorate, inspected five call centers and agencies in this territory.
The police officers found “numerous and valuable documentation for the investigation, such as manuscripts, copies of documentation with personal data, receipts of previous appointments for foreigner identity numbers (NIE), etc.”
The agents discovered that the victims of this practice had not only been forced to pay a sum of money that for many was very high, given their economic and personal situation, but that they had had to give personal data since the appointments are nominal.
They offered personal data without guarantees
They also found out that the transfers of personal data were made without any guarantee of identification of the person responsible for the treatment of the same and without informing or obtaining the consent of the users, as established by the Data Protection Law, for which the researchers gave account to the Spanish Agency for Data Protection and they proposed a sanction of up to 40,000 euros to each of the four establishments where these practices were discovered.
After the first inspections, the investigators observed that the pre-appointment system for immigration procedures had been eased.
However, after a few months they detected that it had become saturated again, so in the last months of August and September a second phase of this operation was carried out, which resulted in inspections in another four call centers in Bilbao and the finding, the same that in the first phase, of diverse documentation of a personal nature inside these premises.
They were also proposed for a sanction of up to 40,000 euros for violating the Personal Data Protection law
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.