DOZENS of international students have been left devastated, penniless and suicidal following an alleged visa and migration scam. Rowan Forster has more.
A man has been arrested by Australian Federal Police after allegedly ripping off international students with bogus working visas and empty job promises.
Abel Prasad of SVC Legal Australia is accused of scamming international students by exploiting their ignorance and lack of understanding of the process behind visa and migration.
Mr Prasad, who also faces 23 charges relating to GST fraud, denied any wrongdoing.
“I have never acted as a migration agent,” he said. “That was my business partner, and our lawyers can help out with any of that information.”
The ABC would later discover the lawyers in question denied any affiliation with Prasad.
Speaking to the ABC, scammed students also opened up about their heartbreak and devastation after allegedly being conned by Mr Prasad.
“He destroyed my dreams,” Indian student Jaspal Marok said after allegedly handing over $17,000 dollars to Prasad for what he thought was a legitimate visa and a new life in Australia.
Marok was later informed by the Immigration Department that the visa he received had been forged by Prasad’s business.
Meanwhile, Chinese student Ashley Chen allegedly paid $41,000 for a job and a visa, only to be threatened and left completely demoralised.
After forking out tens of thousands of dollars, Chen began questioning where her visa was, which resulted in Prasad allegedly threatening the Chinese student.
“If you don’t pay I have your address and I have all your information so you think about that,” Ms Chen claims Prasad told her. Chen went on to reveal that she experienced suicidal thoughts as a result of the alleged scam.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the department was working on the case with the Police.
“Unfortunately there have been instances of people pretending to be migration agents and providing false or misleading information to take advantage of a person’s desire to travel to Australia,” he said in an official statement.
“This calendar year, my department has sanctioned eight migration agents resulting in either a caution, suspension, cancellation, or a barring decision on their registration.”
International students who may be concerned about the legitimacy of a visa, or require general visa assistance can contact government body National Visas for a free visa assessment.