Illegals offered fake passports

Foreign workers caught up in Perth's illegal labour racket claim they have been offered fake passports so they can return to work in Australia after they are deported.

One worker, who asked to be called Jonathon, claimed $1200 was the price of a new identity that included a guaranteed job on arrival back in WA.

Jonathon is one of about 200 illegal workers likely to be sent home after unprecedented multi-agency raids on market gardens, meatworks and other farms that began on May 3.

The 28-year-old claims the offer of a new passport was made by the same Kuala Lumpur-based job agency that arranged for him to travel to Perth to work last August.

Jonathon said the company appeared legitimate when he first approached them after seeing an advertisement promoting working holidays in Australia.

But instead of receiving the working visa he was promised, Jonathon got a standard three-month tourist visa and he claims he had no idea he was living and working here illegally until the raids began.

Jonathon says he rang the company to complain and was told not to worry because he would get a 50 per cent discount off the price of a fake passport when he got back.

"They apologised and said we can help you switch or change your identity and this time you can go back on a student visa," he said.

Jonathon wanted his identity protected because he feared the people behind the job agency could target him for daring to speak out.

The agency also had staff here in Perth who would meet workers when they arrived and take them to the farms where they would live and work.

Work involved picking tomatoes for 10 hours a day and at night he slept in a small room with five other men.

But he did not complain about the conditions because he was earning three times what he made in Malaysia as a graphic designer.

When the raids started, Jonathon claims the farm's Australian owner told him and about 20 other workers to pack up and go before the police came.

Not wanting any trouble, Jonathon handed himself in and has been assisting immigration officials with inquiries into the job agency and its operations.

WA Police say they have asked Malaysian counterparts to investigate the company.

The West Australian

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