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International Students Duped by Fake English Language Agency

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International students hoping to improve their English in Ireland fell victim to a shocking scam, with a man preying on their dreams for personal gain.

Raul Rodriguez Ramirez, who ran an agency called Travel Now, targeted international students, particularly those from Belgium, Mexico, South Korea, and Japan. These young people, in their 20s and 30s, were eager to invest in their future by studying English in Ireland.

Ramirez, however, betrayed their trust. Instead of using their payments – totaling nearly €30,000 – to secure their enrollment in language courses as promised in 2020 and 2021, he used the funds to open a Mexican restaurant in Dublin. Sadly, the restaurant failed during the pandemic.

The students’ hopes for a brighter future were shattered. They not only lost their registration fees, ranging from €1,292 to €3,800, but some even lost their life savings and faced depression or homelessness.

Justice was eventually served, but not without a struggle. Ramirez was sentenced to nine months in prison after initially attempting to delay the case. He did eventually repay a portion of the stolen money (€18,050), which will be divided amongst the affected students.

“I saw a little bit of justice,” said Maria Fernanda Gutierrez, one of the defrauded students. However, she stressed the emotional and financial strain the ordeal caused, highlighting the urgency for stricter regulations in the language school sector.

Fiachra Ó Luaín, a representative from the English Language Students’ Union of Ireland, echoed Ms. Gutierrez’s concerns. He called for mandatory escrow accounts to protect student payments and stricter government oversight to prevent similar scams from happening again.

This case serves as a stark reminder for international students to be cautious when choosing language schools in Ireland. Thorough research and verification of credentials are crucial to avoid falling prey to such deceitful practices.

Author: Thiago

I moved to Ireland 2012. I work as a business administrator and travel a lot to Europe with my work. I enjoy writing and athletics during my vacation and try to visit friends and family every year in Brazil.
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