Australia latest country to report immigration scam

30 Sep 14

AUSTRALIA, GLOBAL, UNITED STATES

IMPACT – MEDIUM

The Australian government has issued a warning about a fraudulent website—work4australia.com—that falsely claims to provide Australian eVisas.

Australia is one in a string of countries that have reported web, email or telephone scams designed either to trick people into thinking they are getting legitimate immigration services or to defraud recent immigrants. Within the last year, a number of U.S. employers have reported similar scams that appear to target employees on H-1B visas. Employees have received phone calls from individuals posing as immigration officials who have obtained their home phone number and other personal information.

The Australian website, meanwhile, purports to offer five-year eVisas for $4,700. It directs users to travel to Thailand where, the site says, a company representative will receive payment and provide travel documents. The Australian government says that the site is a fraud and that no such arrangements exist. The government provides tips on how to identify scams, noting that Australian officials never ask anyone to make payments directly through Western Union, never offer a “resettlement programme” through unsolicited email and never send emails with addresses than end in “.pn.”— a domain that has been used by scammers in Australia.

The fake Australian site is just the latest among myriad attempts in recent years to scam immigrants or would-be immigrants. In 2013, some United Kingdom universities reported that students received suspicious calls from people posing as immigration officers with the U.K. Home Office. French police investigated ongoing telephone fraud involving demands that foreign nationals pay immigration fees for paperwork to be completed. Telephone scams also targeted foreigners in Ireland and New Zealand.

The trend has continued this year. Another reported scam in New Zealand targeted Indian nationals. German officials posted a warning about similar telephone-scam tactics. And officials in Canada issued a warning in March that people coming there by using unauthorized representatives could be refused entry.

In the U.S., scammers have tried to trick foreign investors into buying securities to qualify for investor visas, posed as government officials to extract money from Diversity Visa (Visa Lottery) applicants, and have posed as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents demanding payments. The IRS reported in April that “sophisticated and aggressive phone scams” against taxpayers, including immigrants, continued to rise across the country. Media outlets in California, Arizona, Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan and other states have reported this month on the continuation of IRS-scam calls.

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