By Ram Khatry, Sydney
21 January 2017
A Sydney-based Nepali cook has spoken out about a “community leader” who in 2014 defrauded him of $15,000 by promising a well-salaried hospitality role. The 30-year-old man wants to share his story with the public in order to warn desperate youths from Nepal who may be looking for jobs, visa-change or permanent residency in Australia.
Narayan Neupane, the victim, says although most migration agents and education consultants are good members of the community who play by the book, there are also those who act like the one that robbed him of thousands of dollars.
He is still in serious debt because of what the rogue job agent did to him, he claims. Speaking to southasia.com.au, Mr Neupane confided that he now suffers from stress, depression and mental breakdown as a result of that dark experience spanning 2014 and 2015, “I am no more the guy I used to be. I constantly think of that $15,000 and how I was duped. It’s a lot of money!”
The man arrived in Australia as an information technology student but soon switched over to cookery hoping for a quicker path to permanent residency. He was successful at obtaining 457 visa around July 2014. In the course of obtaining that 457 visa, the community leader in question asked for $15,000 which he paid in two installments – an initial $5000 which was paid via EFTPOS machine at the office of the “agent” while rest of the $10,000 was paid in cash.
Asked how he accessed that sort of funds if he was still a struggling cook at the time, Mr Neupane argues that the man who promised him job and a weekly wage of $1058 encouraged him “to do anything” to arrange the funds including “asking from parents in Nepal or withdrawing cash from credit cards.”
With the assurance of a 457 visa, he used his NAB credit card to withdraw $5000 and then he ran over the limit. For rest of the fund, he did what Nepali people usually do – call for help from the community. He approached a “brother” who in turn went to an ANZ Bank ATM machine, put his credit card in and withdrew $10,000 for Mr Neupane. “I paid for the interest of that cash withdrawal for a long time as well as slowly paying back the principal amount,” the visibly stressed man told southasia.com.au on Saturday.
The man who charged $15,000 from Mr Neupane, it is understood, does not have the necessary qualifications and authority to be acting as a migration agent eligible to process 457 visa or any visa applications for that matter.
He now wants to share his story with the public so that vulnerable youths from Nepal, who arrive in this land of opportunities with many dreams, do not fall easy prey to people who pose as community leaders but in reality are con men who do not hesitate to do anything to make quick money. “There are many people like this who look affluent from outside, who are powerful in the community,” the victim rues.
Mr Neupane reckons he would probably have been in a different life situation had the man not given him devastatingly wrong piece of advice. “I could have continued being a student with that $15,000 or I could have done something else with that money but now I am stuck whereas all of my friends have moved ahead in life,” he exclaimed.
“He assured me that he would find me a proper job with the right amount of money, but nothing happened. And every time I approached him, he would make some sort of excuse and he lied to me every single time. Because of him I lost that much money; my life took a different turn because of his lies,” Mr Neupane expressed his anger.
Mr Neupane initially authorised southasia.com.au to use his picture but later withdrew his authority indicating he feared for repercussions.
Earlier, he had shared his fear of the agent. “He is a bad man. He can do anything to anyone,” he quoted a friend who warned him that he had come in contact with “a dangerous man” who would not hesitate to do anything to have his ways.
Mr Neupane is seeking advice from well-meaning members of the Nepali Australian diaspora as he hope to be able to seek legal remedy against his exploitation.