Email and Internet Scams

Scams can occur in many forms–by post, email, telephone or on the internet. Some scams are easy to identify, while others may appear to be the real thing.

Today, it is easy for criminals to create websites that look professional and generate emails that appear to be from legitimate sources. These websites and emails may try to get you to provide private information that could be used to steal your identity, or trick you into paying them money.

Some common 'real-life' migration related scams are available.
See: Migration Related Scams

Here are some examples of the tricks and traps that scammers might use.
See:
Migration Scam – Example A (360KB PDF file)
Migration Scam – Example B (242KB PDF file)
Migration Scam – Example C (219KB PDF file)

Ways you can protect yourself against email and internet scams:

  • checking the web address–even if one character is different, it can mean it's a different website—all Australian Government websites end in gov.au
    Examples:
    www.immi.gov.au
    http://www.eta.immi.gov.au/
  • visa applications that are processed through the department's website can be tracked by our systems. The department recommends you use the official website for future applications so appropriate support can be provided.
  • never enter private information unless it is a secure site and you know who you are dealing with. Secure sites are locked with a padlock in the browser window or secure URL at the beginning of the address (that is, https://)
  • if you're concerned about a website, do a web search to see if anyone has reported any problems with that site. Visit the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission's website for details on the latest known scams.
    See: SCAMwatch radar
  • it is easy for illegal operators to copy a real website or build one that looks professional – when searching for a registered migration agent, use the link provided on the Register of Migration Agents
    See: www.mara.gov.au
  • job offers should be approached with caution and verified with the business in Australia.

Some things to watch for:

  • emails sent from free web mail addresses, such as a Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail account
  • unsolicited emails from strangers who are advertising a website–do not click on web links in these emails
  • unexpected emails requesting personal information or emails with generic greetings like ‘Dear Customer’ instead of your name
  • 'dating' or 'romance' scams, where supposed single, attractive women (often from Africa or Eastern Europe) ask you to send them money to help them visit you in Australia
  • 'gold' and 'gold/romance' scams originating primarily from Africa can take a number of forms, but usually involve providing assistance to a 'business partner' or a 'romantic associate' to import gold bullion for substantial financial benefit
  • offers guaranteeing you a job with a very high income.

Internet sites designed to look like official Australian Government websites

Some websites offering visa services have been designed to look like official Australian Government websites. These websites may not be scams, however may require clients to pay a service fee over and above normal visa application charges.

Websites like these do not represent the department or the Australian Government and do not have any influence on the application or visa decision process.

The department is unable to provide any comment or support regarding the services advertised by these providers, and may not be able update you on an application that has been submitted by one of these providers.

There is only one official Australian Immigration website providing visa services.
See: www.immi.gov.au

Last reviewed Tuesday 19 November 2013

Was this page useful?