It has come to the attention of the Australian government that there has been a recent spate of scams targeting citizens of West African countries offering false offers of employment and visas to Australia. These scams are run by criminal gangs with the intent to steal your money by fraud. There is no job and there is no visa.
No Australian Diplomat or Australian Border Force Special Agent will contact you offering jobs or visas. Legitimate Australian Government border related email addresses end with @dfat.gov.au or @border.gov.au. Anything that contains a .net or a .com or anything else is a scam.
Should you believe that you are the victim of a scam, you should report it to your local police and you may also wish to report it via the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Scamwatch website.
Be aware that you may be being scammed if:
- the advertisement lists only a first name and number
- the employer or agent demands that you pay them a large upfront amount of cash for an ETA or a Visitor visa
- you are told to get an ETA or Visitor visa for work
- you are told to set up a company and to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN) in order to work
- the agent organises fake documents and photographs
- the agent will only provide you with a handwritten contract or handwritten agreement
- you are promised permanent residence in Australia
- the employer or agent uses the Australian coat of arms on their website to deceive people into thinking that what they are offering is approved by the Australian Government
- you are told you will be paid in cash only
- you are told you won't be required to get an Australian Government Tax File Number (TFN)
- the employer or agent in Australia does not have an ABN
- you are offered a rate of pay below the minimum Australian wage, which all foreign workers are entitled to (see Fairwork).
Be aware of fake migration agents. In Australia, migration agents need to be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority.
If you choose to engage in visa fraud and do not go through official channels to apply for an ETA or Australian visitor visa, you risk:
- losing any upfront cash that you have paid to the agent
- having your ETA or Visitor visa refused or cancelled
- having your visa refused and being excluded from obtaining a further visa to Australia for up to 10 years
- not being permitted on the flight to Australia
- being refused entry to Australia at the Australian border by the Australian Border Force
- being stranded at an Australian airport or city
- being exposed to forced or slave labour
- not being paid at all by the employer or agent
- being located and detained by the Australian Border Force and removed from Australia
- going home with far less money than when you arrived.
In order to protect yourself from visa scams, you should only deal with official Australian Government channels such as the departmental website, reputable travel agents, Australian Visa Application Centres, or the Australian High Commission or Embassy in your country.
Beware of fraudulent Scholarship Agents
Potential Australia Awards – Africa applicants are vulnerable to being targeted by individuals who pose as scholarship agents promising to guarantee a scholarship to study in Australia. Potential applicants, are often urged to pay money, in return for support and guidance in filling a form and submitting a successful application.
If you are a potential applicant, use the website: http://www.australiaawardsafrica.org as your primary source of information. The site will publish accurate and relevant program information which will help you with your application. If you would like to verify whether the program employs an individual that has offered to help you with your application, email us at [email protected].
International financial scams
International scammers continue to tempt people around the world with promises of lucrative rewards, usually in return for assistance in transferring vast sums of money. Read the Smartraveller Travel Bulletin.
Cruise Ship Employment Scams
The Australian Government is aware that clients in Africa have been targeted by unsolicited e-mails fraudulently offering employment from Australian cruise ship companies. Victims of this scam are defrauded of fees supposedly for visas or fictitious ‘foreign worker certificates’. It appears that the fraudulent e-mails originate from other countries, not Australia. The Australian High Commission is unable to verify employment offers from Australian companies. Job-seekers are. however, strongly advised to verify all job offers using publicly available contact details for the relevant companies. Information on applying for Australian visas is available on the Australian Border Force website.
Internet Dating/Lonely Heart Scams
There have been a number of instances where Australian citizens and permanent residents believe they have formed relationships with persons from Africa over the internet, only to discover that the purported relationship is actually part of an on-going scam to defraud the Australian out of large sums of money, or to obtain permanent migration status in Australia. In some instances, persons have also experienced physical harm as a result of the actions of the criminal networks operating these scams.
We have received information that Australians sponsoring their fiancé or spouse to migrate to Australia have been asked to send large amounts of money to their partner, on the basis that this is required as part of the visa application process. Information on all relevant fees and charges associated with visa applications can be found here.
Any questions about the standard visa process (including associated costs), can be directed to the Visa Section of the Australian High Commission, Pretoria at the email address: [email protected]