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Woman sentenced to community detention for immigration scam in Tongan community

A woman, who took advantage of vulnerable people in an immigration scam, has been sentenced to community detention, community work and ordered to repay her victims.

Khadijah Lolohea (also known as Khadijah Piu) appeared at Auckland District Court yesterday (23 May 2013) after admitting nine counts of providing immigration advice without a licence in February 2013.

A multi-agency investigation, led by the Immigration Advisers Authority, found the 38-year-old from Mt Roskill, Auckland had amassed more than $6,000 from 13 migrants.

Authority Registrar, Barry Smedts, commended the victims for coming forward. Many were in the country unlawfully and had to trust that the Immigration Advisers Authority was separate from Immigration New Zealand and had no powers to deport them.

He said: “It took a great deal of courage for people to come to us. Sadly, this is not the first time migrants have been taken in by unlicensed people. The reality is there are several places to go for reliable immigration advice: licensed immigration advisers, lawyers and Citizens Advice Bureaux. We have a complete list in our Tongan translated Immigration Advice Consumer Guide”

Her defence counsel said Ms Lolohea suffered from a mental illness, expressed remorse and had not excessively profited from the crimes.

In sentencing, Judge Singh told Ms Lolohea: “It is clear to me that each one of your victims has suffered considerably as a result of your offending. They have parted with money or goods. They have suffered mental stress and it has also caused family disruption for each of them. Some of them still have families abroad. They have suffered financial loss and have understandably been very angry with your offending. Some of them also have physical medical conditions which make them very vulnerable. In fact, the victims have generally been ripped off especially when they were most vulnerable expecting to come to this country.”

Ms Lolohea was sentenced to six months community detention and 150 hours of community work.  Reparation had already been paid to one victim and the Judge ordered that reparation be paid to her other victims. 

Anyone wishing to order copies of the Immigration Advice Consumer Guide available in Tongan, Samoan, Chinese or English can contact the Immigration Advisers Authority free from New Zealand on 0508 422 422 or by emailing info@iaa.govt.nz.

Anyone wishing to discuss their immigration situation can contact Immigration New Zealand on 09 925 3838. Those that do not speak English can ask for a translator.

Notes to editor

The Immigration Advisers Authority was set up to promote and protect the interests of people receiving New Zealand immigration advice.

We do this by:

  • issuing licences to people who are fit and competent to give immigration advice
  • maintaining competency standards and a code of conduct for immigration advisers
  • investigating people giving immigration advice without a licence or exemption.
  • receiving complaints from people who have received poor immigration advice

Under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007(external link) anyone giving immigration advice must have a licence unless they are exempt. Exempt people include lawyers with a current New Zealand practising certificate and Citizens Advice Bureaux staff among others.

The Authority is independent of Immigration New Zealand and cannot give immigration advice or influence a visa application

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