A family of asylum seekers on day leave stole more than $100,000 from vulnerable, elderly women in an elaborate bank and Eftpos card scam across the North Island, it was revealed today.
The Department of Labour served removal orders to three of the Romanian thiefs on Friday - and the trio face deportation once they serve their prison sentences.
Api Fiso, border security manager, said a fourth individual - believed to be Costica Bursuc - was in the process of an immigration application and has not been served with a removal order.
The elaborate scam has raised questions over security at the Mangere migrant centre, where each of the Romanians had been staying since their arrival in October last year.
Each year, the Government accepts 750 United Nations-screened refugees under a quota system - as well as spontaneous asylum-seekers who arrive at the airport.
Border security detains any foreign nationals it considers a threat at Mt Eden Remand Prison, but the majority of asylum seekers are housed in Mangere.
Foreign nationals deemed trustworthy can come and go as they please from the fenced compound between 9am and 9pm, with little monitoring of their activities.
Once refugees prove their circumstances are true, they are moved to a hostel in Takanini before beginning a new life here.
Dr Nagalingam Rasalingam, president of the New Zealand Refugee Council, said asylum seekers could not be monitored constantly while on day leave from the migrant centre. He said those who broke the law must face the consequences.
Dr Lockwood Smith, National's immigration spokesman, said the screening of potential asylum seekers should be reviewed, and foreign nationals convicted of a crime must be deported after their prison sentence.