Temporary visa holders in Australia are being warned about a new scam where they are being asked to pay a fee or face deportation. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) said that the scammers are impersonating government officials.
They are calling temporary visa holders and claiming that there is a problem with their Citizenship and Immigration Services Alien (CISA) number. The scam victim is told that they must immediately pay an upfront fee, usually about $900, to fix their CISA number or they risk deportation. ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said that the ACCC has received 60 reports of this scam this year with more than $20,000 reported lost.
‘Be on guard as scammers will go to great lengths to get to know you. Don’t be fooled because someone has your personal information such as address, birth date, visa status or nationality because these details can be collected online through websites and social networking forums,’ said Rickard.
Quote from AustraliaForum.com : “On the 9th of June, I applied for a Skilled Regional Sponsored (Provisional) (class SP) Skilled – Regional Sponsored (Provisional) (subclass 489) visa. According to the allocation table, my application should have been allocated to a case officer within 5 weeks but I am still waiting for this allocation. Could you tell me if this delay is normal? When can I expect this allocation?”
A DIAC spokesman said it was a well organised ruse to con migrants into transferring an unpaid Government fee, when the purported ‘CISA’ number does not exist. ‘Immigration has received information from a number of clients who have been approached for their CISA number, demanding that a fee is paid and threatening deportation if it is not,’ the spokesman said. ‘The Australian government will never call you to demand a payment in relation to your visa so if you receive this call, hang up,’ he added.
Rickard said that scammers may try to pressure people by repeatedly calling and harassing them but those who give money to the scammers will never see it again. ‘Never send money or give your account details to a stranger. Scammers may not only steal what’s in your account but use what you have provided to steal your identity. Anyone who receives this type of call seeking payment should ignore the demands for payment and report it immediately,’ she explained.
Both organisations said that there is only one official Australian government provider of visas and that is the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. They are also urging people to report such incidents to the relevant state or territory police and to the DIAC.