I was really surprised The Age did some actual journalism on organised immigration fraud for once, but unsurprisingly it didn’t go far enough (seemed more politically motivated which is silly considering this is a bipartisan issue). Bearing in mind this is the same paper that gave a platform to the Tamil Family and their lawyer Carina Ford, undertaking one of the greatest migration scams (in my opinion) in Australian history to date. It also regularly gives a platform to Abul Rizvi who has very little credibility and has become yet another cash-for-comment grifter, another Australian staple industry.
Ta’s reputation like many in the industry, aside from the organised crime allegations (innocent until proven guilty of course) is also partner visas for Vietnamese migrants, and often those relationships are outright fraudulent. One of the common visa scams is to find a recent migrant with citizenship (often same ethnicity but sometimes not) and make a large advance payment to that person until the permanent stage of the visa is granted. The enforcement of which seems non-existent.
I can say with all honesty in my extensive experience, agents like Ta are the rule not the exception in the immigration industry – he’s just the first high profile one to get caught on camera. To be honest, immigration fraud does pay well for a lot of agents but not running-around-in-a-Lamborghini without-doing-something-else well.
Whether he ends up before a magistrate in the era of no consequence is another story.
I could name a lot of agents that are doing similar, but I’d be here all day. In fairness, they aren’t all bad. There are some very good operators who deal with legitimate, high-end skills for ASX200 companies that we just don’t have here due to us being EZFKA. They’re overwhelmingly in the minority though.
In my experience, immigration law is really a low-IQ business in the legal realm and at the end of the day all you’re doing is shaking down foreigners to fill in forms they could do themselves a lot of the time, in the true ‘EZFKA’ spirit.
Now what does the Australian government do about it other than turn a blind eye?
I have no idea what law enforcement apparatus is set-up to deal with this on the Home Affairs/AFP side of things but there have been some recent, high-profile arrests. This Chinese immigration agent Frank Hu down in Melbourne being one off the top of my head (only got caught because he was apparently sexually assaulting clients).
In terms of regulatory bodies, there is the Migration Agents Regulation Authority (MARA).
Bluntly, MARA is just another toothless tiger, set-up to give the appearance of regulation. It used to have teeth back in the day, but just like every regulatory body in this country it has been systematically white-anted to facilitate the ponzi scheme. It’s basically another APRA, ASIC or FIRB.
All MARA can really do these days is cancel an agent’s registration from practicing overtly. What usually happens is that cancelled agent will get one of his mates to hold the licence and he will continue practicing or becoming an ‘advisor’ and the problem continues – similar to the company director scam with the ATO.
I’ve seen some very uninformed and naïve commentary that migrants aren’t to blame for the rorting of the current system – nothing could be further from the truth. Just like us in the legal profession taking money to represent terrible cases, migrants know full well what they’re doing when it comes to taking advantage of the system so to not ascribe blame to them is short-sighted and bizarre. They know the specific scams and loopholes.
This is the rule not the exception.
Jump on WeChat, meWe, Webo, or even just good old Facebook and you’ll find groups openly discussing and arranging migration scams – from fake partner visa set-ups to fake businesses for sponsoring migrants etc. Furthermore, a lot of those so called ‘ethnic community groups’ are basically PR firms for more migration or are involved in it (can think of a few there too).
Migration agents also coach their clients what to tell Home Affairs during visa interviews much like barristers coach their defendants during criminal trials – so it’s incorrect to suggest that they are unaware of their predicament and are just victims. There is fault, blame and responsibility to be had from top to bottom.
The irony is, the most corrupt migration agents in the industry are usually recently PR or citizenship migrants who then go on to set up their own dodgy school or firm and then continue the chain migration rort from their countrymen and women.
It’s not surprising when we have Migration Agent (224913) literally listed on the Skilled Occupation List – we import people to import other people (Real Estate Agent is also on there by the way).
We are a true economic zone/ponzi and Australia’s immigration sector is neck and neck with housing.
That’s just a short introduction into how bad Australia’s migration industry really is and I intend to do a few more articles discussing the common scams in our system and how to potentially fix them from a legal perspective.
Guest article from barrister Mark who has served a sentence of over 20 years in the legal world including migration and criminal law