by Pádraig Collins
The case of an Irishman being investigated by Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) over visa fraud has been passed on to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Irish Echo has learned.
The news follows a series of revelations in the Echo concerning fraudulent Australian Business Numbers (ABN) being used by Irish backpackers to obtain second Working Holiday Visas (WHV).
The Irishman whose case is now with the DPP is still living in Australia. It is understood this case is separate from the cases where one Irishman has already been convicted of visa fraud and another, who has left the country, is being investigated.
The basis of all these investigations lies in the ABNs of farmers being used by applicants for second WHVs. People applying for a second WHV have to first work for three months in agricultural or regional work.
Many applicants thought the ABN scam was genuine and that they would work on a farm at a later date. But some, unable or unwilling to find regional work, paid up to $400 for an ABN and took their chances that DIAC would not fully scrutinise their application. It is estimated that 90% of the time the visa was granted due to the vast number of visas being processed and the relatively few which were subjected to in depth checking.
One scammer selling ABNs through internet ads is estimated to have made up to $60,000 doing so. He used the alias “Kevin Doyle” and is now back in Ireland and thought to be living in Co Wicklow.
Some people have become concerned that the fraudulent cases will mean the end of the second WHV scheme. The Irish Echo understands that while all classes of Australian visas are under constant review, there is not currently any move to end the second Working Holiday Visa. However, it is likely that such incidences of fraud would be considered in a review of the scheme.
In spite of the risks, some people have posted on internet sites about how they have fraudulently acquired a second WHV. “I’ve heard of some people submitting random ABN numbers and having their extension granted without any problems,” one poster wrote.
People convicted of fraud under the Migration Act may be liable for imprisonment for up to 10 years, and/or a fine of up to $110,000.
Have you been the victim of an ABN scam? Let us know in confidence on 02 9555 9199 or email@example.com