Scammers offer ‘guaranteed’ Australian visas

8 October 2010

SCAMwatch and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) are warning people who wish to visit or migrate to Australia to be cautious of people offering ‘guaranteed’ Australian visas.

These scammers contact you out of the blue by post, email, or phone offering a visa in return for payments, personal details and identity documents.  They may claim to be a ‘registered provider’ or ‘Australian visa application service’.

Scammers may try to trick you into believing they are genuine by posing as staff from an Australian Government department, or by using websites which look like official Government sites.

Other migration scammers operate illegal, unregistered migration agent and advisor services.  In Australia migration agents must be registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority.

Illegal operators often give incorrect advice, steal your money, encourage you to lie on your application and don’t deliver the services promised.

Warning signs

  • You get an offer out of the blue for a ‘guaranteed’ Australian visa.
  • The offer comes via email, post, over the phone or on a website.
  • It claims to be a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’, or your ‘only’ chance to travel or migrate to Australia.
  • You are asked to pay the scammer upfront to ‘register’ your interest in getting a visa. The scammer asks you to pay them directly rather than paying the government department and claims that only they can pay the department’s fees.
  • The scammer claims to have a special relationship with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
  • They tell you they need to keep your original documents.

Remember

  • There is only one official Australian Government provider of visas - the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). DIAC’s official website is www.immi.gov.au.
  • DIAC charges a one-off fee at the time you lodge your visa application. You can pay the fee directly to the department and do not require an agent to pay this fee on your behalf.
  • No one can influence the outcome of a visa application or the visa decision making process. Only authorised officers from DIAC can issue you with a visa and only if you meet all the visa requirements.
  • DIAC does not have any special relationships with outside agencies and doesn’t give preferential treatment to anyone.

Protect yourself

  • Be suspicious if you are contacted by phone, post or email about a visa you did not apply for. Hang up immediately or ignore the email/letter! The Government does not contact people out of the blue offering.
  • If you wish to use a migration agent, check that they are registered on the Migration Agents Registration Authority website.
  • Never give or send anyone your original identity documents. Government departments may wish to view your original documents in person or may ask for certified photocopies but should never ask to keep your original documents.
  • Never provide your personal, credit card or banking details in an email or over the phone—scammers will use your details to commit identity fraud or steal your money.
  • If you think you have provided your bank account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

Report

You can report a scam to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch.

You can report an unregistered immigration agent/advisor under “Unregistered Agent activities” on the DIAC Feedback form.

More information

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) provides further detailed information on how to Protect Yourself from Migration Fraud.They have also issued a media release on migration scams [link no longer available].

DIAC also has a Using a Migration Agent in Australia flyer which has been translated into 14 different languages.[link no longer available]

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