Tongan community in NZ warned after immigration consultant allegedly charging fake job offers

The Tongan community in Aotearoa is being warned after claims a Tongan licensed immigration consultant was allegedly demanding payments in return for fake job offers. 

Sālote Heletā Lilo says she had been receiving complaints about the scam. Photo/Facebook

It has been alleged that the consultant’s clients were paying for these job-offers to assist their immigration applications. 

A legal expert has previously warned that an employer or a recruiter in New Zealand cannot charge people for job offers.

Experienced Licensed Immigration Advisor Sālote Heletā Lilo made the claim this morning, but provided no further details. She said the man had just left for Australia.

Lilo said she had been receiving complaints about the consultancy in question. She identified the suburb at which the consultancy was based in her Facebook page. Kaniva News has decided not to publish it. We have been unable to contact the accused.  

Lilo called on those who fell victim to the alleged scam to contact her office for assistance.

“I appeal to those who were affected by this scam to contact me as soon as possible so we can contact Immigration New Zealand to assist you and your family”, she said in Tongan.

The revelation came after the Immigration Advisors Authority (IAA) investigated an elaborate passport scheme involving a South Auckland Tongan church promising residency for cash in 2021.

In that scam, over-stayers and those wanting residency were told if they joined the church and paid $500 per person or $800 per family a High Court judge would sign off on their residency.

Reverend Tevita Paipa, who helped collect passports and money from over-stayers, told 1 NEWS he would give an interview about it, but had to pray and fast first.

Fake Job offers

Fake visas and offers to sell jobs in New Zealand are not new.

In February, migrant workers were urged to educate their family and friends overseas if they spotted potential immigration scams.

“An employer or a recruiter can’t charge you for a job”, Senior Investigator Helen Garratt was quoted by the New Zealand Herald as saying.

Garratt said a general rule to follow was that if a job offer in New Zealand sounded too good to be true, it probably is. However, there were specific signs that people could watch out for to protect themselves from falling prey to a scam.

“So beware of offers asking you to pay a large sum of money in return for a visa and a job. Also, paying a sum to have your visa application fast-tracked is another sign the offer could be a scam,” Garratt said.

Last year a Licensed Immigration Advisor was arrested after they become involved in a scam selling false job offers to offshore migrants and fraudulently obtaining work visas through Immigration New Zealand’s Accredited Employer Work Visa category.

The scam required migrants to pay between NZ$20-$40,000 for a job and a visa. Upon arriving in New Zealand, they found the jobs did not exist. They were subsequently housed in overcrowded properties.

The adviser was charged with two counts of providing false and misleading information to Immigration New Zealand, an offence under section 342(1)(b) of the Immigration Act 2009 which carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment and/or a $100,000 fine.

Immigration consultancy law

Under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 anyone giving immigration advice must have a licence unless they are exempt. Exempt people include lawyers with a current New Zealand practising certificate and Citizens Advice Bureaux staff among others.

The Authority is independent of Immigration New Zealand and cannot give immigration advice or influence a visa application.

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