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Aus audit reveals large-scale fraud of visa system

Last Updated: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 14:22

Melbourne: Thousands of Indian students and skilled workers on 457 foreign worker visa scheme entered Australia on dodgy travel and work documents from 2008-10, according to a report.

The immigration department`s internal audits show fraud rates touching 50 per cent and reveal that it has struggled to properly identify people who were entering the country, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) said today.

"Identity fraud is a significant risk in the Indian caseload given how easily genuine documents with fraudulent details can be obtained," according to one of the documents obtained by the ABC.

The large scale prevalence of identity theft because of low level of technology in Indian passports led to a significant level of fraud during 2008, 2009 and 2010 but has been brought under control since then, according to the documents.

Reacting to the report, Immigration Department spokesperson Sandi Logan admitted the figures from 2008-09 financial year were troubling.
"Around the periods of 2008, 2009, 2010, the fraud levels were quite considerable, a matter of real concern to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship," he said.

However, adding that things had changed, Logan added: "We`re quite confident that those people who were issued with a visa, 99.9 per cent are who they say they are and are doing what they said they would do when they were granted visa."

The ABC report, whose Freedom of Information request to the department took two years to be processed, published the results of its investigation today.

The report also alleged that passport and visa fraud was happening in large numbers.

In case of Indian student visas, the department found a 37 per cent fraud rate from 41,636 lodgements in 2008-09.

Also, the investigation highlighted the helplessness of authorities in countering the situation.
"There does not appear to be much the department can do," one of the documents noted adding "opportunities to combat this type of fraud remain extremely difficult."

The internal documentation as a solution cites the need for improved technology by both Australia and India.

"Longer term, robust biometric processes embedded in Indian identity documents and in DIAC systems will be the only effective combatant," a document added.

The report also detailed a case where a man, previously deported from Australia, entered the country again on fake identity with the help of a migration agent.

He was able to subvert the numerous visa checks by simply changing his birth date, the department noted.

First Published: Monday, July 22, 2013 - 09:16
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