Migrating to another country is always going to be a herculean task. Hence, while it’s possible to process the requirements on your own, some people do opt to go through migration agencies, and that’s okay.
Unfortunately, scammers are also aware of the demand for such and have made a livelihood out of conning unsuspecting applicants. First, a person responds to a job opportunity on a Facebook page or online forum. Next, they’re instructed to send copies of their passport and to deposit a sizeable payment to some offshore account.
Now, before the victim realizes what’s going on, the scammer vanishes into thin air, along with their hard-earned money. On top of that, the poor sap’s back to square one, with nothing to show for all of their efforts. Yikes.
But how do you protect yourself from such unscrupulous entities? For starters, you need to be vigilant. Here are three red flags to look out for when you suspect that you might be dealing with a visa-related scam:
- Vague job descriptions and requirements.
- Requests for personal banking information.
- “Pay to get hired” scheme.
Let’s say you’ve got a nursing degree on your CV, but the recruiter offers you a plumbing job. That sounds rather dubious, don’t you think?
Want another example? If a job description sounds too generic (e.g., “AU Hiring for Secretaries,” etc.), it’s probably fake. According to Johanna Nonato, the CEO of BridgeAus Migration Consultancy, jobs that are eligible for a 482 work visa should appear on the Skilled Occupations List.
Thus, you can bet that such job openings will require a highly-specialized background. You could poke around for more details, perhaps, but if the contact person isn’t very forthcoming or doesn’t sound very credible to begin with, you’d best look elsewhere.
There’s a rapidly growing trend on Facebook where scammers post job opportunities or offer to assist with work visa applications. These are especially rife in groups that cater to Pinoy migrants, despite moderators’ efforts to keep the pages clean.
One person who responded to such a post and accepted the job reported something very odd. Aside from a highly unusual employment process, the recruiter asked her for her bank details, explaining that it would be for her salary’s direct deposit.
Five days later, money from four separate transactions entered the account. Someone called the applicant and instructed her to transfer the money to another person. Clearly, they recruited her as part of some sort of money laundering scheme.
In sum, if a recruiter asks for your personal banking details right off the bat, they’re probably up to no good.
This is perhaps the biggest red flag in any work visa scam. As Filipinos, we’re used to shelling out money to get out of the country. In Australia, however, companies do not charge money to hire you.
Another thing you should look out for is the method of payment involved. If you’re trying to get an Australian visa but the migration agent is directing you to send money to an account or financial institution elsewhere, that’s pretty suspicious right there.
As a final note, this article isn’t meant to discourage you from seeking assistance. There are still a lot of legitimate migration agents out there who can help you out, so it’s just a matter of doing your due diligence.
Furthermore, should you encounter a particularly dodgy agent or company, don’t hesitate to report them to the authorities. You could very well end up saving a lot of your fellow kababayans in the process.