We have all received scam emails from people claiming to be from the tax office, from the bank, from Nigeria, Medicare etcetera… The latest scam involves contact from scamsters claiming to be from immigration.
Consulate service VFS has confirmed high quality scams have been affecting many Australian visa-holders, particularly Indian nationals.
Scams usually involve a phone call from someone claiming to be from the VFS office which handles visa administrative matters.
Obviously self-represented applicants are more at risk as experienced migration lawyers can identify genuine contact, and have systems to detect false email addresses etc.
In a recent case, a scammer led the victim to believe it was a legitimate call by insisting that the victim check the number they were calling from on the VFS website to verify the authenticity of the call. The scammer threatened to deport the visa holder from Australia unless they flew to their country of origin immediately to amend the error the scammer was alleging. The scammer then offered the distraught visa-holder an alternative of paying two registered agents an appearance fee of up to $1,000.00.
The victim of this scam was instructed not to tell anyone about the fee as it was confidential, and to stay on the phone throughout the transaction to ensure security. The deposit was made through a registered Western Union account and the scammer tells the victim that VFS agents will arrive at their address to confirm the receipt of payment.
The victim, Jatinder Singh, claims that his information had been leaked by VFS to the scammers and that VFS have done little to assist him or take responsibility for what happened despite acknowledging that such scams were operating.
It is certainly worrying that scammers possess enough personal information to personally contact a visa holder by phone to deceive them into paying these fees and this is just one of many scams operating.
At the Migration Place, our registered migration agents are experienced in the entire process of Australian visas and can help protect you from falling victim to such scams. When you engage our services for a visa application we will liaise with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) on your behalf. In the rare event that the DIBP does contact you directly, we will be able to advise you as to whether any request made are likely to be genuine.
Don’t risk falling victim to a scam and losing thousands of dollars. If you would like to apply for an Australian visa, contact our experienced team at The Migration Place on (07) 3229 4025 to protect your interest today!