Court orders have shut down a website believed to be used to sell fake New Zealand travel visas.
A judge at the High Court in Wellington issued interim injunctions on Wednesday against an India-based website designer, aimed at taking down the site, which looks like Immigration New Zealand’s.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), on behalf of its Immigration NZ division, applied for the orders against a company believed to be behind the website. It had the same name as Immigration NZ’s, except that a dot in the real one was replaced with a hyphen.
Justice David Collins issued interim injunctions against Swastik Solution to remove the www.immigration-govt.nz domain name or lock it for up to 180 days. The Domain Name Commission has to take the removal or locking action, and complied with the court’s order within an hour of receiving it.
Another injunction covers the website’s content.
The Domain Name Commission oversees the registration and management of New Zealand domain names and can have them locked or removed, including all domain names ending in “.nz”, the judge said.
His decision said Swastik’s own website described it as a leading Delhi-based website designer.
Immigration NZ learned of the Swastik site on July 23 and information strongly suggested that its purpose was to sell fake New Zealand visas.
After the injunctions were granted, a spokesman said it did not know of anyone being adversely affected by the scam, but it wanted to hear from anyone who had submitted their details through the fake website.
In his decision, the judge said it was thought that immigration or travel agents selling false visas to enter New Zealand would tell customers to go to the Swastik website to confirm their visas were genuine before asking for payment.
Customers would visit the site, believing it to be an official one, enter the details the agent had given them, and receive a message confirming the visa was valid. The agent was then paid.
The court was told Immigration NZ had been unable to contact Swastik.
Justice Collins said there was strong evidence that Swastik was breaching the Fair Trading Act with its misleading or deceptive conduct.
He could still issue the injunctions, even though Swastik and many of the intended victims were based outside New Zealand.
The domain name was registered in New Zealand, and communication with a site from overseas could amount to conduct in New Zealand for the purposes of the Fair Trading Act, the judge said.
It also came under the Fair Trading Act because the website purported to provide Immigration New Zealand services.
There was also a strong basis to Immigration NZ’s claim that its website was a “literary work”, and that the fake site breached the Copyright Act.
A Domain Name Commission spokesman said it was the first time for several years that it had taken action due to a court order.
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Immigration NZ moves to shut down visa scam website
Posted on August 23, 2015