March is Canada Fraud Prevention Month – Protect yourself from visa & newcomer scams
March 2, 2021
March is Canada Fraud Prevention Month and time to learn to protect yourself from immigration fraud and scams. Every year, thousands of Canadians, newcomers and aspiring immigrants fall victim to fraud. Most people don’t think it could happen to them, but fraudsters increasingly use sophisticated methods to target people from all walks of life. More and more of these schemes are targeting Canada’s immigration system. Immigration fraud can have devastating impacts on individuals and families hoping to make Canada their home.
A common scam is when fraudsters pretend to be Canada immigration and visa consultants or lawyers to scam foreigners who desire to immigrate to Canada. Another common scam is when fraudsters contact potential immigration applicants with promises of jobs in Canada. They may pose as Government of Canada or High Commission / Embassy officials, use names of officers, or incorporate logos and watermarks to make their interview letter / job offer / visa request look authentic.
You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.
Others target newcomers to Canada with scams promising financial assistance, jobs, credit facilities and more. In many cases fraudsters have been known to target immigrants with schemes that they know are generally less known to the immigrant population.
Fraudsters also target international students. International students in Canadian cities including Ottawa and London have recently reported receiving phone calls from individuals claiming to be employees of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The caller tells the student that to avoid deportation, they must send prepaid credit and gift cards, money wires or e-transfers as payment to avoid arrest or deportation.
Preventing Immigration Fraud and Scams
The good news is that the majority of frauds can be prevented by identifying the methods used by fraudsters. The more you know about a fraud, the less likely you are to fall for it. Through awareness, you can avoid becoming a victim.
The Government of Canada takes immigration fraud very seriously and is committed to protecting immigrants and Canadians alike from all kinds of fraud. See IRCC fraud bulletin: Protect yourself from immigration fraud. Individuals providing Canadian immigration/citizenship services abroad are also subject to Canadian law even if they reside outside of Canada.
Every year the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) participates in Canada Fraud Prevention Month, in collaboration with Canada’s Competition Bureau, the RCMP, and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. ICCRC is the national self-regulatory body that promotes and protects the public interest by overseeing regulated immigration and citizenship consultants and international student advisors and advocating the benefits of using only authorized immigration representatives,
ICCRC’s federal mandate stems from the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Citizenship Act which require anyone providing Canadian immigration or citizenship advice or representation for a fee or other consideration to be a member in good standing of ICCRC, a Canadian law society or the Chambre des notaires du Québec.
ICCRC has launched several anti-fraud initiatives including an international digital campaign to target aspiring immigrants, international students, and temporary workers as well as a social media campaign on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to share fraud prevention tips in languages spoken by potential immigrants.
ICCRC has also launched its “Safe Migration to Canada” app, currently piloting in India. The “Safe Migration to Canada” app is aimed at mitigating the impact of immigration fraud by empowering prospective immigrants with information and will be expanded globally.
Recognize Newcomer Fraud and Scam
Below are some common scams aimed at newcomers to Canada, as described by the IRCC. Read them so you know what to do if you are targeted.
People posing as Government of Canada staff
What happens: A person poses as a government official on the telephone. They call people and try to scare them by saying they have done something wrong (like not filing proper paperwork), and that they owe fees. They may say the person can lose their immigration status or be deported if they do not pay right away. These people may even threaten someone’s family or home.
Things to remember
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will never:
contact you over the telephone to collect fees or fines,
be aggressive or threaten to arrest or deport you,
threaten to harm you or a member of your family, or damage your home or property,
ask for personal information over the phone (except to verify information you already gave us),
ask for financial information over the phone,
try to rush you into paying right away,
ask you to pay fees using prepaid credit cards, Western Union, Money Gram, gift cards, or any other similar services, or
send police to arrest you for unpaid fees.
If you get a suspicious immigration call, you should:
Ask for the name of the person calling and then hang up.
Call the IRCC Call Centre to confirm that the call was real.
If you have lost money to a scam artist, report it to your local police.
Note: If you use caller ID, an agency’s phone number may appear real, but it is not. Some scam artists use technology to fake the number, so this is not always proof that a caller is legitimate.
What happens: You may get an email trying to convince you to invest money or to give personal information or passwords related to your banking accounts.
What to do: Delete it. Legitimate investors don’t send bulk emails to people they do not know.
Watch out for emails from a stranger that direct you to a website that asks for personal information. Never give out personal information unless you know who you are giving it to, and that the website is secure.
If you get this kind of email, don’t click on any links or give any information about yourself. If you have any doubts about where the email came from, make sure to check the identity of the sender.
Fake computer virus
What happens: You may get a phone call or email saying that your computer has been infected with a virus. The caller or sender will offer to remove the virus from your computer. The person will try to get your computer passwords and other private information.
What to do: Never give access to your computer to someone you didn’t contact for help. You should only have your computer fixed at a professional shop, or install anti-virus software bought from a trusted store.
What happens: If you get a phone or text message that says you won something, but you did not enter a contest, it is probably a scam.
What to do: If you get a text message from a stranger, and it directs you to a form that asks you to enter any personal information, delete the text. Do not enter any information.
If the text tells you to text “STOP” or “NO” so you don’t get more texts, delete it. Do not reply. Scam artists do this to confirm they have a real phone number. Forward the texts to 7726 (SPAM on most keypads). This will let your phone provider block future texts from those numbers. If you think your text message is real, check that the link it is sending you to is the correct website.