The Australian high commission on Monday warned against a visa scam after receiving complaints from about 50 people who alleged they had been duped of lakhs of rupees.
The high commission said they were “concerned” about the growing number of victims and advised potential applicants to “exercise caution”.
In recent weeks, more than 50 people have approached the high commission after paying lakhs for a work visa, only to be told that they have fallen victim to a “visa scam”.
“Australia does not have a work visa program of the sort being promoted by the scammers – our Temporary Skills Shortage work visa is run only with approved sponsors, and only for applicants with specific skills in demand in Australia,” said a spokesperson for the high commission.
“Around 300 students go to Australia from Calcutta every year. The number of tourists is close to 10,000,” said Anil Punjabi, chairman, eastern region, Travel Agents Federation of India. Some go with work visas, too.
The spokesperson for the high commission said: “Some of the recent victims have said they paid up to Rs 50,000 just for a non-existent airfare and a medical check with an unauthorised clinic, in addition to all the other fees they have been charged.”
The employment agency also allegedly provided victims with a fake visa grant notice. “We have seen clones of our website before but the newest versions link to a fake visa checking site that only contains the visa details concocted by the agent. This may look convincing to someone who is wanting proof the agent is not duping them – but actually, it is still all fake,” the spokesperson said.