A website taking advantage of New Zealand’s managed extended isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities has nearly tripled what it charges New Zealanders desperate to return home.
Friday afternoon Thing reported that a website called MIQ Helpers charged returnees in New Zealand $ 350 to secure a place in MIQ.
Since the article was published, the website has nearly tripled its success fee to $ 980.
The site is managed by Aaron Athfield, who also owns Ceefa Software, who claims to have worked for the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the government agency responsible for administering MIQ.
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MBIE has said it has no record of a contract with Ceefa Software and will ask the company to remove its logos from its website.
Athfield also claims to have invited MBIE to a presentation on the “candidate management system” he developed to determine whether it violates MBIE regulations which prohibit software from scanning or operating its website. MBIE did not address Things questions about it.
Rachel Fagan, a New Zealand citizen in Thailand, said two months ago that she had secured a place at MIQ for September, but now that the Covid-19 situation in Thailand had deteriorated, she wanted to return home. her earlier.
She said she had spent the past few days constantly updating the official MIQ website to secure a spot, but was unsuccessful as the available spots disappeared within seconds.
She turned to MIQ Helpers after seeing the Thing article posted on Facebook and saw that the success fee had skyrocketed to $ 980. The site also charges a $ 45 application fee.
“They must be making a lot of money,” Fagan said.
She said she was considering paying the inflated price.
“I feel bad about paying because I don’t want to give them my money. “
Athfield tells customers that the website has a real-time pricing engine that intervenes to slow or speed up the rate of arrival of new applications by adjusting the success fee.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins referred on Friday Thing to MBIE when asked to comment on what was being done to prevent third parties from securing MIQ slots before individual returnees.
MIQ Helpers requires customers to provide their email address and password used to log into the government MIQ booking website, giving MIQ Helpers access to customers’ passport details and date of birth, this against what MIQ warns.
Athfield has been approached for comment.