PROSPECTIVE migrants and visa applicants should beware migration scammers.
The Australian immigration department issued the warning after receiving a worrying rise in complaints about internet migration scams.
In many cases, victims were contacted by a salesperson and told to hand over their credit card details after registering their interest for migration services online. Payment was charged to victims’ accounts despite no migration service being provided.
Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen said the fraudulent websites often resembled official Australian Government websites, and were peppered with phrases such as “registered provider” or “Australian visa application service”.
“They claim that they can ‘guarantee’ a visa, this is a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ or it is your ‘only chance’ to travel or migrate to Australia,” Mr Bowen said.
In response, the immigration department has launched an online consumer protection resource to educate the public.
The Protect Yourself from Migration Fraud information kit, which can be found on the immigration department’s website, includes real-life victims’ experiences, suggestions to stay safe online as well as information on identifying fake websites and emails.
The kit also includes consumer resources and a video testimonial.
In Australia, migration agents must be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority. Migration fraud involves illegal operators posing as migration professionals.
People with information about migration scams or illegal operators should contact the department on 1800 009 623 or fill in the online form.