International fraud in the immigration sector – current risks and how to manage them

International fraud is increasing in the immigration sector with the latest issues affecting both employers and migrant employees. We asked Immigration DirectorNew Zealand Arno Nothnagel of Absolute Immigration to tell us about the fraudulent activity they are seeing and what businesses should do if targeted. 

What risks are you seeing? 

There are two parts to this area. The first concerns the use of false advertisements and marketing material, including fake visas. Company logos are also being copied and used overseas to lure potential migrants to pay for non-existent jobs. 

The second part involves migrants arriving in New Zealand with visas granted who have paid a third party or another overseas agent for a job offer, and there is no job. The visa is legitimate, but they’ve paid someone for a job that doesn’t exist. We are receiving weekly reports of this occurrence, and it’s affecting companies of all sizes. 

Within the recruitment space overseas, we’re also finding that some companies are charging recruitment candidates a fee to help them find work in New Zealand. Normally a recruitment consultant or company will charge an employer a fee or a percentage of a wage or salary to find candidates. Therefore, ACE members should question a recruitment consultant or company if they are approached with a free candidate because this is not the usual practice in New Zealand.    

What should you do if targeted? 

Call Crime Stoppers New Zealand on 0800 555 111 if you come across fake visas or false marketing material being used overseas. It should be your first point of contact. Crime Stoppers is an independent charity helping New Zealanders fight crime and provides a simple way to pass on information anonymously to the authorities to help solve existing investigations or raise awareness of unknown criminal activity. It may also be able to advise you on what other steps to take.

You should also advise Immigration New Zealand (INZ) if fake visas are involved on 0508 558 855 or by email at [email protected]. Employers can also contact INZ via [email protected]. 

If an employer is aware of someone who has arrived in New Zealand with a valid visa and paid for a job offer that doesn’t exist, they should contact INZ straight away. The investigations team at INZ treat this matter very seriously and will work with the migrant, or group of migrants, to determine what has happened and the action to take.  

The investigations team at INZ are also looking into operators who are charging candidates to help them find work in New Zealand. But, although the team can approach and alert the relevant commission overseas, New Zealand does not have any jurisdiction internationally, which means it is difficult to do much. Therefore, unless the recruitment consultant or immigration lawyer or adviser is based in New Zealand, or an interaction happens in New Zealand, few steps can be taken to remedy the issue. 

Are there any steps businesses can take to safeguard being targeted? 

It’s hard to control what happens online due to the accessibility of information. It’s also very difficult to control what people take, including copying company logos. The best thing businesses can do is be aware of the action to take in New Zealand if they are targeted, and to try and limit what personal information they publish online.  

You also mention the importance of visa compliance for businesses. What should they be aware of? 

Employers need to be aware that, under the current scheme of company accreditation and associated renewals coming up this year, renewals will be more critically assessed than in the past with a greater focus on compliance. Therefore, companies employing migrants on visas must make sure their visas are compliant. This includes ensuring migrants are paid correctly, working in the correct occupation and location, and have current visas. It’s unlawful to work on an expired visa. 

If an employer becomes aware of a compliance or visa issue, they should address it as soon as possible, and keep a record of this. The company will be viewed more favourably when carrying out its visa renewals for accreditation if it can show it acted quickly to fix any issues of which it became aware.