25 Jun 2009

Passport scam accused 'sent from heaven' to help

3:24 pm on 25 June 2009

A Samoan man fighting for residence for extended family members says the man accused of running a passport scam was "sent from heaven" to help Pacific Islanders.

Toailoa Tuautu says Gerard Otimi offers help and that is what people want and they will pay.

Mr Otimi faces three charges of taking money by deception. He was reportedly charging $500 for residence papers in the name of a Maori hapu.

But Mr Tuautu says paying the $500 fee is nothing compared to the fees involved in obtaining residence.

Lawyer Bruce Stuart says immigration issues are often difficult and the problems have forced people to look to Mr Otimi for help.