The Sikh Association says immigration scams within New Zealand's Indian community are common and are always highly organised.
Some 39 Indian pilgrims, who are meant to be en route to the World Youth Day in Sydney, are now in hiding and hoping to make New Zealand their home, illegally.
It's understood some of them paid up to $NZ17,000 to a middleman in India, for what they thought would be visas to stay here.
Sikh Association spokesperson, Verpal Singh, says there's probably also a local contact getting a cut of the money.
He says the scammers cover their tracks well, but the contact will try and find work for the absconders.