A parliamentary inquiry which opened last month is taking a close look at so-called migration agents, who are cheating people hoping to live, work or study in Australia.
The inquiry follows a joint investigation by SBS and Fairfax news. It revealed some agents were using false promises to extort tens of thousands of dollars from their victims.
Apart from the media investigation, there has also been an increase in the number of complaints from within the sector. The Department of Home Affairs received more than 800 complaints against registered migration agents last year, up from just over 600 in 2014.
In many cases, the offenders pose as education providers. They encourage young students to pay for courses, claiming that enrolling those courses will guarantee them a visa.
In a recent case, about 100 South American students paid a total of $500,000 to a company which said it would arrange their accommodation and enrolment. When the students arrived in Australia, they found the company had disappeared, along with their money.
Mary Crock, a University of Sydney law professor who specialises in immigration law, says it is possible that the increased difficulty in obtaining visas now is forcing some migrants to jump at any opportunity. This makes them easy prey for dodgy operators.
It is against the law for education providers, or indeed anyone, to offer migration advice unless they are registered as migration agents. Home Affairs told the inquiry there was a real threat posed by corrupt or unregistered migration agents, including organised crime groups.