Three Indian nationals, who have been victims of an elaborate immigration fraud by a bogus Auckland recruitment agent, have been told by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) that they must leave New Zealand immediately or face deportation.
I represent them now; they came forward voluntarily in December 2013 with almost identical stories of a Newmarket based recruitment agent who had charged fees for placing them in jobs.
The recruitment agent however pocketed the money and entered into an elaborate fraud with his clients to make it seem as if genuine employment offers had been obtained and visa applications submitted.
The fraud appears sophisticated; either the employment agent or the Immigration Advisor dealing with visa applications had gone to the extent of creating bogus emails purporting to be requests for further information from INZ. They even returned the passports to my clients in courier bags, supposedly from INZ.
Our staff investigated and found that no applications were lodged and that even the employers who had purportedly given the job offers knew nothing about them. They confirmed that the Human Resource Managers who had ‘interviewed’ our clients did not exist.
I notified the Fraud Branch of Immigration New Zealand, provided evidence of the fraud and tried to secure an interview with the relevant officers so that the victims could give their story.
What happened next however came as a shock to the whistle blowers.
Since the recruitment agent who took money from the victims did not lodge Work Visa applications, our clients had become over-stayers.
Having volunteered to provide evidence and information to the Fraud Branch, our clients requested short-term Visitor Visas to enable them to remain in New Zealand whilst giving their version of events.
INZ however refused to grant our clients visas, threatened them with immediate deportation. In response to the concerns raised, officials of the Fraud Branch said that they were too busy to deal with their cases.
I was stunned to discover the level of disinterest that INZ had in gathering evidence. Despite promises to interview the victims and review the evidence, the officials told them to leave or be deported.
What was most surprising was that this type of fraud is at a level of sophistication, which I have not encountered in my 17 years of doing immigration work. The fact that the victims received emails supposedly from an Auckland lawyer, INZ, documentation contracts and interviews from large Auckland companies turned out to be completely fraudulent.
I had thought that INZ would have jumped at the opportunity of getting their hands on this evidence and interviewing these victims.
However, the exact opposite proved to be the case, with INZ wanting the victims to leave or face deportation.
It would seem therefore that ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is now the way of dealing with immigration fraud.
Alastair McClymont is Principal of McClymont & Associates (Barrister & Solicitors) based in Auckland