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Immigration NZ uncovers “significant, organised” agent fraud in India

An investigation by Immigration New Zealand has uncovered “significant, organised financial document fraud” by bank managers and nearly 60 education agents in Hyderabad, including some of the most active agencies in the region.

The factsheets list agencies found to have submitted fraudulent documents. Stamp reads: 'Released under the Official Information Act'.

As of March, 56 people were "certainly or almost certainly" confirmed to have used this fraud to enter NZ

Stakeholders have said the investigation blows the cover off an “open secret” of Indian agents falsifying bank statements and universities not verifying loan letters.

“This tempo of fraud is a significant threat to NZ’s immigration integrity, and reflects a number of wider issues with the Indian student market”

Three INZ factsheets dated February, March and April 2016 show that 15 bank managers have been found to have doctored financial documents that were then used by agents to prove students had the funds to study in New Zealand, thus securing their student visas.

A total of 57 agents in the region were found to have participated in this fraud, according to the factsheets, which were obtained under New Zealand’s Official Information Act by the opposition Labour party.

All eight of the top agencies (by volume) in Hyderabad were found to be engaged in this practice, including five out of the top ten agencies in India (ranked by INZ according to quantity and approval rates).

As of March, 56 people were “certainly or almost certainly” confirmed to have used this fraud to enter New Zealand, all of whom are currently in the country, according to the document. An additional 82 people were said to be “likely” to have entered NZ fraudulently.

Though the three factsheets only looked at agency activity in Hyderabad, the document issued in February states that there are “indications” fraud is happening nationwide.

“This tempo of fraud is a significant threat to NZ’s immigration integrity, and reflects a number of wider issues with the Indian student market,” the documents conclude.

In an email to management colleagues dated April 5, INZ’s immigration manager – risk, Justin Alves, described “the depth and breadth of penetration” of agent fraud uncovered in the investigation as “concerning”.

“So far there has been no agent we’ve looked at which hasn’t been using it, to some extent or another,” he said.

Nevertheless, Alves said in the email that it is unlikely that the rate of fraudulent activity taking place will make “a significant dent in the overall % student approval rating for MAO [Mumbai Area Office]”.

Alastair McClymont, a lawyer representing some of the students who were found to have submitted falsified documents, said: “Almost all of the fraud relates to fake bank loan documents.”

“The education agents perpetrating these scams need to be put out of business before they can ruin the lives of any more young people”

“My understanding is that Immigration NZ readily acknowledges the fraud is generated by unlicensed education agents in India and that Indian banks are complicit in the fraud,” he said.

McClymont’s clients deny any knowledge of the fraud that took place, he said, adding: “The Indian education agents took these shortcuts because many Indians find it difficult to prove where they sourced their money as they don’t all use banks.

“The education agents perpetrating these scams need to be put out of business before they can ruin the lives of any more young people.”

Until now, agent fraud related to education loan sanction letters has been an “open secret” and few universities verify loan disbursal letters, according to Ravi Lochan Singh, managing director of Global Reach in Hyderabad.

However, he challenged whether all of the 57 agencies identified by INZ are in fact knowingly conducting fraudulent activity.

“Only a handful of the agents [mentioned in the document] have multiple cases with fake loan documents,” he said.

“Where we find repeated instances of such fake disbursal letters, it is apparent that the agent is in the know and has knowingly provided the documents,” he said.

“If we assume that one-two cases of fraud document can slip in through any agency without the agency being involved, then the list of guilty agencies even in the Immigration NZ document will only be five-six and thus a large number of agencies, especially those working for reputed universities, are not involved in the scam.”

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7 Responses to Immigration NZ uncovers “significant, organised” agent fraud in India

  1. New Zealand is an attractive migration destination for Indian nationals. One of the most popular pathways to getting residency in NZ is through a skilled migrant visa. You can get this with sub-degree (non-university) qualifications and the majority of students from India tend to pursue these.

    New Zealand also attracts large numbers of international students from around the world. Our government works closely with the higher education sector to ensure that the country is seen as a high quality education provider.

    Speaking for the university sector, there are robust processes in place to ensure the ability of international students to pay for and complete their study. New Zealand’s immigration agency has further tightened their procedures since this issue occurred. They have a range of pragmatic and effective policies in place where students come from countries or backgrounds that make it harder to produce evidence of financial sufficiency. This has been highly effective.

    These processes are usually in the best interests of the students themselves. The corollary is that degree completion rates for international students are among the highest of any country we are aware of.

    Chris Whelan
    Executive Director, Universities New Zealand

  2. The main cause for this is
    Many Institute of Polytechnics (ITP’s) as well as Private Training Providers (PTE’s) based in New Zealand attract students from India, most of them have inexperienced marketing managers both onshore and in India. Most of such marketing managers are strangers to New Zealand and know little basics about NZ. The role of such marketing managers is to get more and more student numbers to their institutes. Their jobs are intact as long as they recruit students in large numbers from India. These marketing managers to achieve their targets appoint agents in all parts of India including rural villages and smaller cities. Many of these marketing managers are inexperienced and their only motto is to get students. The commissions offered by institutes to agents vary between 25% to 40% of the tuition fee plus bonus and also after the 5th enrollment many also offer bonus & marketing budgets. We are surprised how after paying such huge payouts they still manage to operate the institutes.

    Its not only private training providers but also the New Zealand government owned polytechnics that have adopted such practices. Most of them have appointed Indian locals (in India) as their managers. They all operate in India with our any legal permission from the government of India (Foreign Institutes need many permissions if they want to have any operations in India and conduct any business activity in India)

    • REALLY, Nishi!! How is a marketing manager responsible for the fraud committed by dodgy agents and/or unscrupulous students in coordination with corrupt bank officials? FYI, managers can work under service contracts in India but in any case, how does it matter? The fraud is done either by the agent or the student or both; how does a marketing manager get involved in the fraud? The institute’s manager does not get involved in visa application and its documentation & most of the fraud is visa related. The institute staff’s role finishes after issuing the admission offer. As for commissions offered by institutions, stormgroup’s website lists many NZ education providers which offer the commission structure of 25%-40% so why list them as ‘popular’ if in your opinion they are not likely to be able to operate as quality education providers. From a senior agent like yourself, i find this comment irresponsible.

  3. It is evident that these frauds are kind of shame for students and agents who pursue these channels to come here but at the same time immigration NZ is biggest fraud which gives visas to them. Look at some interesting points here:
    1. NZ students pay zero fees or susidised fees for courses which overseas students pays in thousands in the name of what??? no reason this govt has.
    2. Rent for properties are so high that overseas students pay which nz student are well off?
    3. Work and income has support to nz students but not to overseas students? why no reason for this even overseas student pay thousands to come here
    4. No refund of fee after 14 days of admission to college? why not allowing refund for unused education if overseas student want to go back
    5. why immigration fees are so high when visas are so short?
    6. why visas are given so easy to come here and not refused? but then why PR so tough? why there is no pathway to pr so someone coming here can live here permanantly specially students
    7. All bull shit here

  4. Some of the important facts:
    1) There is no way to cross verify the documents provided by the student. Hence agents has to believe the documents provided by them.
    2) All the agents needs to provide such access to verify fraudulent documents.
    3) All the fraudsters has to sent behind the bars.

    • If a agent provide fraudulent docs , then who will verifie abt it. Some times a agent provide assistance abt loan letters and to hide educational gap in study.
      Agent should verifie the students docs and later if fraud comes out then agent is responsible.

  5. At least Indian students have the opportunity to query is their consultant is saying right or not through the highcomission of NZ but bangladeshi student faceing many problem because of some fraud agent in bangladesh eg. srijabd ltd is one of them. whatever, some foul agent in Bangladesh taking 10000tk money to issue a offer letter from any institute in NZ . Even they provide misinformation about the institute and even loot student large amount of money about 10lac tk by promising to send them must in NZ and they will provide all the doc to approve the bank loan .

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