October Halloween stories are supposed to be frightening and full of suspense, but your migration to Australia shouldn’t be added to migration horror story threads found in online forums. It’s time to talk about current migration fraud and scams.
Migration scams are ever evolving and unregistered agents are always on the prowl for naïve applicants. There are plenty of heartbreaking news and stories about how these scammers duped unsuspecting people through the phone, email, and even in person. The result of these scams sullies the reputation of registered migration agents Australia who are genuinely intend on helping people migrate to Australia.
So steel yourself; these scams will only succeed if one is ill-informed. To avoid being a victim, you have to research about current migration scams and how unregistered migration agents operate.
The Most Common Scam, Phishing
Phishing is common and may come in different forms from unexpected emails, phone calls, to lucrative job offers.
Most of these criminals will even use the Department of Home Affairs name to appear legitimate and will send you emails with standard greetings like “dear customer” followed through with a well worded body of content, then subsequently asking to follow a link to a website, and even asking for your personal information just to get your money.
The image below isn’t related to migration, but the method is very much the same.
There are other unique migration scams documented by the Department of Home Affairs and some of these are ETA and visitor visa work scams, fake VEVO app scams, Maritime scams, and even a fake ‘virtual kidnapping’ scam that targets Chinese Australians.
The Scammers who pose as Agents
An unregistered migration agent may take advantage of your willingness to travel to Australia. Aside from feeding you with incorrect and misleading information, their fraudulent activities can cost you your fortune, identity, and your chances of having an Australian visa.
If approached by an unregistered migration agent, watch out for these signs:
- Claims of a guaranteed visa, a once in a lifetime opportunity, having a special relationship with the Department of Home Affairs, and the need to keep your original passport and certificates.
- Asking to pay upfront in cash only with no receipt provided.
- Fees that seem extremely cheap or expensive.
- Not providing a contract and statement of services and fees.
- No office address. Asking to meet in public areas like cafes and pubs.
- Only provides a post office box and mobile number as contact points.
- And most telling of all, no Migration Agents Registration Number (MARN) is advertised.
Migration agents operating inside and outside Australia must strictly be registered with MARA. Verify their registration via the OMARA’s agent search page. To do this, you’ll need the migration agent’s full name, business location, business name, and their MARN.
If you want to report an unregistered migration agent or any offenses they committed, you may place an online report here. There’s no need to worry about reporting because your visa application will not be affected should you make a complaint. Visa processing is done separately from the investigation.
See: Migration Agent Barred for Five Years Over Fraudulent Conduct
If the individual or group is operating outside Australia, you can report it to your local police or consumer protection authorities. And should you discover other migration scams, you may report it at SCAM watch, an independent website run by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC)
Trust and follow the guidelines given by official channels and registered migration agents. Stay informed, and spread the word. By being aware of the current scams, you can save a fellow migrant from being yet another victim of these scammer’s ill-intentions.