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Australia: scammers target student visa holders

Student visa holders in Australia have been tricked into paying large penalty fines to offshore accounts for unlawfully working beyond their visa conditions. With more than 300,000 student visa holders in the country the government is taking the scam “seriously”.

Overseas students who cannot work more than 40 hours a fortnight on their visas have been targeted

Last week the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) issued a warning to international students to be aware of individuals impersonating departmental officers seeking payment.

In a statement, a departmental spokesperson said it was a “well-organised ruse” to con visa holders into transferring penalty payments offshore.

It is a “well-organised ruse” to con visa holders into transferring penalty payments offshore

“The department has received information from a number of students who have been contacted by people claiming to be from immigration-related agencies,” the statement said.

“Con artists claiming to be from DIAC tell their targets that their visa working conditions have been breached, advising that a fine has been issued and must be paid in full.”

The scammers have targeted overseas students who are not allowed to work more than 40 hours a fortnight as part of their visa conditions. Some students have reported they received fine notices demanding payment of thousands of dollars.

Speaking with The PIE News, a spokesperson for DIAC said the investigation was ongoing and the department didn’t have much information on how widespread the issue was.

As of June 30 last year, there were 307,050 student visa holders in Australia showing the amount of people who could be targeted. “The student visa caseload is big enough for this to be an issue we take seriously,” the spokesperson said.

The government has advised any student contacted about such payments to refuse to pay, and to report the incident to the police.

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