ABF urges communities to report “suspicious activities” of fake migration agents

20 December 2019 I As it has had two Sydney women sentenced to conditional good behaviour bonds, the Australian Border Force (ABF) is calling upon community members to report “suspicious activities” of fake migration agents and thereby “help protect Australia’s border”.

People with information about individuals who falsely claim to be migration agents, and scores of social media posts and innuendoes do suggest they exist aplenty, are able to report anonymously by visiting Australia.gov.au/borderwatch and hitting the “Flag it” button.

The sentenced pair are from Sydney, one a 30-year-old Australian citizen and the other a 32-year-old Chinese national with Australian permanent residency.

Both have pleaded guilty to multiple offences against the Migration Act, ABF stated today. Officers commenced investigation into the pair in October 2018 after it was reported that they were unlawfully providing immigration advice and assistance to people wanting to come to Australia – mainly Chinese nationals.

According to authorities, the two women not only committed offence by providing immigration assistance while not registered but they also “provided immigration assistance to at least three travellers who were found to be in possession of fraudulently obtained identity documents”.

They reportedly charged clients of their illegal immigration service fees ranging from $1,500 to $2,000.

The 30-year-old was sentenced in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court on 17 December to an 18-month good behaviour bond while the 32-year-old received a two-year good behaviour bond.

The ABF has been proactively targeting fake migration agents providing unlawful immigration services and misleading immigration advice.

“It is unlawful to charge a fee when providing immigration assistance in Australia unless you are registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA),” ABF Commander of Investigations, Graeme Grosse, said today.

He warned that his agency would not tolerate fake migration agents trying to exploit Australia’s Immigration programme by assisting people to knowingly lodge false Protection Visa claims. The protection visas were for people who are genuinely seeking protection due to a well-founded fear of persecution or if there is a real risk they will suffer significant harm if they return to their home country, he clarified.

Offences the 32-year-old woman pleaded guilty to:

◦Charging fees for immigration assistance contrary to Section 281(1) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).
◦False representation that a person is a registered migration agent contrary to Section 283(1) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).

Offences the 30-year-old woman pleaded guilty to:

◦Giving immigration assistance when not a registered migration agent contrary to Section 280(1) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).
◦Charging fees for immigration assistance contrary to Section 281(1) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).
◦Self-advertising of the giving of immigration assistance by a person who is not a registered migration agent contrary to Section 284(1) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).

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