Scam targets Greeks eyeing Australia

A large number of crisis-weary Greeks eager to seek a more promising future in Australia have fallen victim to opportunists who allegedly set up a bogus office, promising residence and work permits but instead swindling thousands of euros from their unwitting customers, Kathimerini has learned.

The Australian police has launched an investigation into the alleged scam following a slew of complaints by Greeks and the intervention of representatives of the Greek community in Australia.

?To begin with they ask for 300 euros, then they want another 4,000 euros,? Costas Markos, the general secretary of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria, told Kathimerini.

According to Markos, the fraudsters gave an existing address for their bogus office in Melbourne, on a street close to the community?s headquarters.

A website was also set up, featuring photographs of beaches, skyscrapers and kangaroos under the banner ?Australia awaits you – new opportunities, a new beginning.?

One would-be immigrant, who narrowly escaped the clutches of the fraudsters, wrote in a letter to Markos, ?it is a real shame that despondent people seeking to leave everything behind and seek a new life on the other side of the world are being exploited.? The Greek man, who signed off only with his initials L.S., said he realized at the last minute that the enterprise was fraudulent and did not pay up.

Markos, the community leader in Melbourne, advised those interested in relocating to Australia to check the procedure – which remains rather complex and costs around 4,000 Australian dollars or 2,900 euros – on the website of Australia?s Department of Immigration.

There reportedly has been a surge in interest by Greeks interested in moving to Australia, particularly by professionals of all ages, prompting the Greek community to lodge a request with the Department of Immigration for a simplification of the procedure for Greek nationals. ?Last week we were getting 20 calls a day from civil engineers, doctors and teachers,? Markos said.