21 Jul 2015

Home detention for residency scam

3:09 pm on 21 July 2015

A woman has been sentenced to 10 months home detention after setting up a visa scam that targeted Tongan overstayers.

Auckland International Airport

Photo: RNZ

Kolini Tatafu claimed she could help them gain residence through a special scheme which did not exist.

At the hearing in Papakura District Court, Judge Anna Johns said Tatafu convinced many families to pay her for her help and there were over 80 complainants.

Judge Johns said many of the families were struggling financially when they paid her, and will remain out of pocket.

Tatafu's lawyer, Hugh Leabourn, said Tatafu felt remorse over the scheme and it was driven by her gambling addiction.

Mr Leabourn said she believed at the outset she could genuinely help people, but then the process got out of control.

A lawyer for the victims, Amelia Schaaf, said they would be disappointed with the sentence, as they felt betrayed.

"Some of the victims will be upset because they would have expected a harsher penalty; it seems a lot of people were affected by what Kolini Tatafu did."