Dairy worker visa fraudster pleads guilty to 284 charges
A woman has admitted a scam in which more than 1000 Filipinos working on dairy farms paid thousands of dollars for fraudulent visas.
Loraine Anne Jayme, 35, of Te Aroha appeared in the Hamilton District Court on Wednesday, where she pleaded guilty to 284 fraud charges, covering obtaining by deception, using forged documents, supplying false information and forgery.
She was remanded on bail by Judge Kim Saunders, to next appear for sentencing on October 21.
Three representative charges of obtaining by deception, knowingly using an altered document, and using a document for pecuniary advantage were initially laid by the police in October.
These were later withdrawn by consent and replaced by the 284 counts, which she has now admitted.
Jayme is a joint New Zealand-Philippines national. The charges against her were brought by Immigration New Zealand.
The scam, in which Filipino dairy farms sold fake work experience documents for up to $15,000, could have affected more than one in three Filipino workers coming in over the past five years, immigration advisors believed.
About 1700 Filipinos are working on dairy farms in New Zealand.
An investigation began last year after Immigration New Zealand staff in Christchurch noticed concerning patterns among visa applications from Filipinos seeking to work on dairy farms.
"We're talking about large-scale, industry-wide problem," said Ben De'Ath, a licensed immigration advisor and managing director of Cross Country Recruitment, when details of the scam were revealed in September.
"It has become clear that an elaborate 'black market' of farms in the Philippines have sold employment certificates used to attain work abroad."
The farms charged an "unfathomable amount of money" for the documents, he said.
Between 2011 and 2014, more than 23,700 workers from the Philippines were granted temporary work visas in New Zealand.
With Canterbury facing labour shortages in both the construction and dairy industries, migrant workers have become an increasingly vital source of labour.