A family of Syrian refugees has been scammed from nearly $ 10,000 by an Australian scammer posing as an MP who promised to help them with a visa application.
The Al Abssi family was on visitor visas in Saudi Arabia after fleeing war-torn Syria when they saw a Facebook group offering assistance in May 2017 with Australian humanitarian visas.
The Facebook group administrator claimed that he was a member of the Australian Labor Party and & # 39; connections & # 39; had in parliament with which visa applications could be followed quickly.
Keeping in touch with 27-year-old Nour Al Abssi – who was the first of her family to see the page – the man convinced the desperate war survivors to send him eight payments totaling $ 9,500. SBS reported.
The Al Abssi family was on a visa for a visitor in Saudi Arabia after fleeing war-ridden Syria when they saw a Facebook group offering assistance in obtaining Australian humanitarian visas in May 2017. Nour Al Abssi (left behind) is seen with her parents and three brothers and sisters
The scammer, who also claimed to have a PHD in engineering, admitted that he took money from the family when he was contacted by the broadcaster.
He could not provide proof that the money he took went to possible applications or that these were submitted on behalf of the family.
Mrs Nour, her parents and three brothers and sisters, now tell about their experiences in the hope that they can prevent others from being scammed.
& # 39; I say it because we want to prevent him from doing it again in the future & # 39 ;, Nour told SBS.
The university-educated women said that things would become ominous if he suddenly stayed silent for a long time.
& # 39; When this happens, I started to doubt things, and I feel worried and I wonder: & # 39; & # 39; why does he do that & # 39; & # 39 ;. Then I would tell myself that he is definitely not cheating on us and that he has access to these documents, & she said.
& # 39; When I told my family, they were in shock … The whole family collapsed. & # 39;
The man said that payments were needed to continue their visa application and that the family transferred money to him and two of his relatives via Western Union.
One transfer for $ 2000 would be & # 39; alcohol & # 39; to encourage the office manager of the immigration minister, & # 39; Mr. Scott & # 39 ;,
In June 2018, the scammer closed the group and blocked Nour on Facebook and Whats app after she had made numerous attempts to contact him for updates on their application process.
A new page with humanitarian visas was set up by the scammer days later.
The scammer spanned the family and told them that he was managing his 400 staff and parliamentary duties.
He told them that he called on a daily basis to continue their application and that he had contacted his friend, the Australian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and spoke directly to him about the case of Al Abssi.
In another incident, after Nour told the scammer that they were evicted after missing rent payments, he sent them a fake letter full of errors and a Victorian insignia that the application was probably pending.
The refugees, who escaped from their home country in April 2016, have seen the prospect of a chance to live in Australia because they are not allowed to work or study in Saudi Arabia.
After all their savings were exhausted on what the scammer claimed to be contributing, an expensive lawyer, sponsor, guarantor and medical tests, & # 39; the family of six & # 39; in.
The family is now again & # 39; at the beginning & # 39; while they continue to seek asylum.
Al Abssi believes that the scammer from Melbourne can still scam others.
The Facebook group remains active.
A spokesman for the Australian Labor Party said the man has never been a member of the group.
It is illegal to provide immigration assistance in Australia unless registered at the office of the migrant registration authority.
The case is currently being investigated.
The Ministry of the Interior told SBS that it works closely with a series of agencies and international partners in its efforts to combat visa fraud.
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