175 people are under investigation in Genoa, northern Itay, because they allegedly falsely claimed to be running a small business to get a stay permit.
Genoa police said Tuesday (March 1) that they had discovered an organization that allegedly helped foreigners to illicitly obtain stay permits by stating that they ran a small business from their residence.
A total of 175 people have been placed under investigation on charges including document forgery.
The investigation was kicked off after several applications to start a business were rejected because the place of residence appeared fake.
Many people registered the same adress for their businesses, police said. Among the adresses used were the locations of migrant hosting centers that the applicants had already left when they filed the requests, according to investigators.
Fake small businesses to renew stay permits?
Police said the majority of the 175 people under investigation filed a so-called 'Scia', a request to start a business, at the city's office for productive activities and then obtained a VAT identification number. They then reportedly submitted a request to register their business in Genoa and applied to qualify as small entrepreneurs.
Investigators said that the stay permits included in the 'Scia' request -- which in most cases had been issued for humanitarian reasons -- had either expired before the application or were about to expire.
Investigators claim that the businesses were registered solely so that the suspects could fulfill the requirement to have a job or business in Italy in order to renew their stay permits.