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Are there any legitimate reasons why a person in India might be asked to provide a copy of their British aunt's id?
February 8, 2012 3:23 AM   Subscribe

Are there any legitimate reasons why a person in India might be asked to provide a copy of their British aunt's id?

A cousin in India has been asked to provide a copy of the id of his aunt - aka my mother - for some (to me at least) unclear purpose.

I have the impression that they were asked to provide a number of family ids, not just my mother's, but I could be misinterpreting here as I wasn't party to the conversations. I only came to know of this situation on the basis of being told: "I need help with my scanner, I need to scan my passport and email a copy to X".

The cousin resides in and is a citizen of India, my mother resides in and is a citizen of the UK. As far as I know there are no transactions or legal formalities taking place in which my mother is involved. It seems she just got a phone call out of the blue with this request.

Does anyone know of legit reasons why such a thing might be needed?

Are there any additional considerations to think about when proposing to send a scan of one's passport in this kind of scenario?

I don't know if my scam detectors are over-sensitive here, but this certainly rings alarm bells for me, and I would like input from Mefites that may have experience of such things.
posted by philipy to Law & Government (14 answers total)
 
If they're applying for a visa and the British consulate wants ID for the person that the applicant claims will support them? I think they'll usually only grant visas if the applicant can prove they have some way of supporting themselves without having to work - it might be that your cousin is intending to stay with the aunt.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:30 AM on February 8, 2012


Visa is the only obvious thing I can think of
posted by jannw at 3:32 AM on February 8, 2012


Except an Indian citizen does not need a visa to visit the UK and even if they were applying for a student visa there is no requirement for a UK relative's passport.
posted by saucysault at 3:41 AM on February 8, 2012


Some arms of India's bureaucracy ask for an unnerving level of detail about your parents and grandparents, but I can't think of any reason why they'd ask about aunts. I'd guess it's probably British visa thing - the cousin wants to come to the UK long-term and wants your aunt to act as a sponsor. She should find out exactly what's expected from her before she sends any documents.

Less likely, perhaps, is that the cousin is in a situation where they think they can gain some kind of social capital by proving they have relatives in Britain. For example, if they're negotiating an arranged marriage, having British citizens in the family would be seen in some circles as prestigious and potentially a door to the couple emigrating to the UK in the future. The other family may want to see your aunt's ID as proof.
posted by embrangled at 3:55 AM on February 8, 2012


I'd say visa as well. Has your mother asked your cousin what it's for?

What saucysault said is incorrect - Indian citizens most definitely do need a visa to enter the UK. There are few countries they can enter without one.
posted by 9000condiments at 3:57 AM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Additional info:

When I asked my parents what this was needed for, no mention was made of visas or anyone planning to come to the UK. If they were sponsoring someone I think they would have mentioned it.

They didn't have any clear idea what it was for but thought it was to be given to a bank and had something to do with establishing the family tree, possibly for some kind of property rights matter.

This still sounds rather odd to me, but I don't know much about how they do things in India. I believe it is true that paper legal documents didn't exist much in the past, and that property tended to be held in common by families rather than by individuals. So I can vaguely imagine some scenario where there's a need to establish what your share of a multi-family shared property comes to, but I have no idea if that is really plausible or not.
posted by philipy at 4:32 AM on February 8, 2012


Just for the record:
Except an Indian citizen does not need a visa to visit the UK and even if they were applying for a student visa there is no requirement for a UK relative's passport.

According to the UK Border Agency:
---You told us that
you are a national of India.
you are coming to UK to Visit.
you are normally and legally living in India.
---What do you need to do?
If you are coming to the UK for a short stay as a visitor, you must obtain a visa before you travel here.

posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:34 AM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, Indians should not ask for British ID, for whatever reasons. Frankly, its none of their business, unless your cousin was previously citizen of another country and giving up that citizenship in favour of Indian one.

Other point that you mentioned, shared property. Does your mother have any shared property? Is she asking for her share? Did she inherit any property? If not, it is not needed.

If your family hails from Punjab, Haryana or Delhi region, be warned, there are tons of scams around all the time.

If I were you, I would not give anything unless its very clear to me, with documentation, that it is indeed needed.
posted by zaxour at 5:52 AM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


If I were you, I would not give anything unless its very clear to me, with documentation, that it is indeed needed.

Seconding this. Nothing good can come of it, only bad. Who knows what, exactly? Scammers can be pretty imaginative.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:16 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do any of the following apply to your friend or aunt?

- Is he applying for a british citizenship?

- Is he applying for OCI (overseas citizen of India) or PIO (person of Indian Origin)

- Is he doing it on the basis of his ancestory?


Its a long shot but just to rule out the legitimate reasons, however remote, first before thinking that this is something suspicious going on. Is there a reason why he may want to open a bank account for the Aunt.

- Trying to put money in fixed deposits? (good rates currently) and if she is a 'senior citizen' you get higher rates.
posted by london302 at 7:13 AM on February 8, 2012


I carry an Indian passport and have applied for a UK visa in New Delhi. It was actually quite easy and this was back in 1992. I was never asked to provide anything other than my ticket, the invitiation from the conference adn the affidavit that my employer (or family if that had been teh case) that they were funding my trip.

After 2001 I applied for a UK visa from Chicago in 2005 and received it for 6 months. In 2007, I received one for 2 years (from LA) and most recently I received a 5 year visa (from Helsinki via Stockholm).

All on an Indian passport from a variety of UK embassies and variations in security and changes of procedure. At no point did I need to provide anything more than my friend's address and reason for visit (a wedding invitation, a letter from her for the earlier visit etc) If your cousin was planning to visit your mother, you would know or she would definitely know this.

Since its so vague:

I would ask your mother what she was told before sending anything especially a British passport scan. If she is not clear, I would take the trouble to call cousin on behalf of mother and ask exactly why its required and what said cousin is up to.

While my flags aren't flying at full mast and it might turn out to be something innocuous, its better to get the story from horse's mouth and then we see whether it makes sense or no.
posted by infini at 9:14 AM on February 8, 2012


They didn't have any clear idea what it was for but thought it was to be given to a bank and had something to do with establishing the family tree, possibly for some kind of property rights matter.


Sorry, I did not see this update before I replied to you. My flags are higher because if your parents are not clear why the passport scan is required then are they involved even in these funds or accounts? Would your mother be used as a loan guarantor (having the NRI status) or as a front to open a foreign currency account? (NRI non resident Indians get advantageous interest rates and benefits). If they don't know this, then perhaps you should call and find out exactly why. I don't think it would be taken wrongly for you do this on their behalf and it just makes good sense to do so before putting forth IDs for anything to do with finances, especially if there is no clarity.

This still sounds rather odd to me, but I don't know much about how they do things in India. I believe it is true that paper legal documents didn't exist much in the past, and that property tended to be held in common by families rather than by individuals. So I can vaguely imagine some scenario where there's a need to establish what your share of a multi-family shared property comes to, but I have no idea if that is really plausible or not.

Your mother's ID is required not your father's. For the most part, women's portions of the family estate were shared out during marriage in form of her jewellery/dowry etc and certainly even 30 years ago women were 'paraya daan' - that is, of the husband's family and not the birth family.
posted by infini at 9:23 AM on February 8, 2012


Thanks for the info everyone.

On getting my parents to dig into this further, it turns out that because the cousin's father died very young without a will, quite a few years ago now, there's been an ongoing saga with the bank about releasing the funds from some joint family account. Other relatives in India have also had to provide documentation for this purpose, and they're pretty streetwise folks, so it looks like this is not a scam.

This was still a useful exercise as at the least it got my parents to blank out some of the info that might have been most problematic if it got into the wrong hands before sending anything.
posted by philipy at 7:36 AM on February 12, 2012


Its a relief to know its just good old desi red tape and bureaucracy. (They never did get my grandfather's bank account released to my grandmother when he suddenly died intestate).
posted by infini at 8:09 AM on February 12, 2012


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