How it works:
- Situation: in Australia, there are a couple of scams to look out for especially for backpackers and migrant workers seeking farm work.
- Variation 1 (fake job listing): for such listings, a payment will be demanded upfront for a variety of reasons – e.g. to help you secure work or accommodation, or as a deposit to hold your place in the next batch. Once you pass this money over, the other party disappears.
- Variation 2 (exploitation): advertising high pay by lying about harvesting certain fruits/crops when they are none. When you are there, the task turns out to be something like pulling vines and which pays a pittance (not enough/just enough for you to cover rent). You may even be asked to pay an exorbitant upfront fee before starting the job. Living conditions are likely to be tough too (e.g. cramping many into a small space).
- Example: there is an infamous farm owner “Dom (not Don)” who offers fruit picking jobs to backpackers in Mildura and the video below goes into more details of the set-up:
Places to beware:
- Anywhere (jobs are generally found online)
What to do:
- Thoroughly research the broker, agency and the farm you plan to deal with.
- Watch out for these red flags:
- Free accommodation in a hostel or hotel (too good to be true)
- Guaranteed job and income (not possible due to the weather)
- No street address or a fake address (google it!)
- Mismatch of crops, harvest time and harvest location (check out point #7 at downundr which has compiled a list of common crops in the various states and their harvest times)
- Having a BSB number that is linked to a pre-paid card and not a legitimate bank account (check BSB number here)
- A newly created website (check whois.net) without any reviews that you can find
- Offering to provide documentation proving you have completed 3 months of rural work so that you can apply for a 2nd year visa (this is illegal)
- Not using company emails to contact you but using emails from free domains (e.g. gmail, hotmail, yahoo mail).