Immigration fraudsters offer cash for fake jobs

The deal is simple - a cash payment for a fake job (Getty)
The deal is simple - a cash payment for a fake job (Getty)

Immigration New Zealand is investigating a cash for fake jobs scam, where business owners are offered bribes to help students acquire visas.

In some cases, fake businesses are being set up to cheat the system. 

The deal is simple - a cash payment for a fake job.

"I have been approached in the past by independents or middlemen offering us money - I would call it a bribe from my perspective," says David Hallett, IT Professionals Waikato chairman.

"Perhaps from their perspective it's more an inducement to hire staff, or at least bring staff on to our companies."

Mr Hallett, who's the director of Hamilton-based software firm Company X, refused the offer - but says he was promised $20,000 in cash.

The deal was he just had to make it look like he'd hired an individual who was trying to extend his visa, so his immigration paperwork looked genuine.

"He had a stack of cash available to him, and the implication was that if I was happy to do this, he would organise cash for me as a payment that was not traceable," says Mr Hallett.

Another IT professional, who Newshub has called James, faced a similar situation. He was asked to pretend to be an employee of a fake company to make it look legitimate.

"They said, 'We will offer you money also - we will put money into your account to make it look genuine,' and I said, 'I don't want to be part of it.'"

Again, the ultimate aim of it all was to extend a work visa for a student under the employer-assisted scheme, where you can get a two-year visa if you find work relevant to your qualification. 

James says people he knows have got visas by cheating the system. 

"It happens not just in IT business. I know people who have done it in retail, in hospitality and in the restaurant business."

"The level of fraud involved in these companies is quite extensive," says Peter Devoy, Immigration assistant general manager. "Setting up false email accounts, possibly web pages."

Lawyer Alistair McClymont says he's aware of both versions of the scam.

"It's very common. We hear stories about it regularly."

He says a standard bribe as part of fake job for cash deal is usually around $15,000 to $30,000.

"Immigration New Zealand are determined to process applications quickly. That's where the resources go, and they don't seem to have the resources to investigate and put an end to this type of fraud."

Immigration says it's currently assessing 43 separate cases of cash for jobs scams.  It has approved around 220,000 temporary work visas in the last year. 

"Trying to verify every one of those 220,000 applications is difficult for us," says Mr Devoy. "It is likely we will find out after the event, and it's likely we find out because someone comes forward and tells us."

Immigration says it has enough resources to deal with high-end investigations, and where a case is substantiated it takes swift action.

It's currently prosecuting a woman who's facing more than 230 charges relating to fake job offers.