Businesses raided over migration fraud
December 29, 2008
IN ONE of the largest migration scams involving international students in Melbourne, nine businesses have been raided over claims that some charged up to $20,000 for fake education certificates and work references.
– Melbourne businesses raided
– Migration fraud charges likely
– Raids follow year-long probe
In searches of city and suburban addresses just before Christmas, the nine Melbourne businesses including a private training college, curry restaurant, graphic design studios and business and education consultants were raided by federal immigration officers and federal police.
An Immigration Department spokesman told The Age: “It is alleged that for a fee those involved have been providing clients with fraudulent education qualifications and bogus work references to assist them in obtaining Australian permanent residence through the skilled migration program.”
Several people are likely to be charged with migration fraud offences following a year-long investigation.
The main premises raided was Hong Yun International on the 12th floor of the Exchange Tower in Little Collins Street.
The company is registered as a business consultancy and is owned by Gary Zhou and Jane Zhao. It was allegedly operating as an unregistered migration agency.
Immigration sources said the company allegedly co-ordinated a scam believed to involve hundreds of international students, mainly from China and India.
Among the “large volume” of evidence seized were laptops and desktop computers.
It will be alleged that students were able to buy fake education results “cash-for-certificates” for courses at a private training college in Flinders Lane linked with Hong Yun.
It will also be alleged that students bought fake work experience documents from an Indian restaurant in the CBD and graphic design and printing studios in North Melbourne and Oakleigh South, all similarly linked with Hong Yun. The students did not attend the college or the workplaces.
Immigration sources said students caught up in the scams had already paid tuition fees of up to $20,000 before paying between $7000 and $20,000 extra for bogus paperwork.
An education agency in Caulfield was also raided. Financial records of a deregistered company previously owned by the Shanghai-born Mr Zhou were also seized.
International students seeking permanent residency in Australia must provide proof of their education and vocational work experience. The use of fake documents in residency applications is deemed migration fraud. Students are victims of the scam but also complicit in it, meaning they are reluctant to say anything.
Maurene Horder, chief executive of the Migration Institute of Australia, which administers and registers migration agents, said similar rorts were rife in every capital city.
A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Evans said last night the raids were an indication that migration fraud against international students “would not be tolerated”.