July 18, 2017 – Immigration fraud is back in the spotlight in Canada after a new warning from the Ontario immigration office.
Scammers have been sending emails claiming to be from the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) and asking for a ‘Right of Permanent Residence Fee’.
The messages come with a false Ontario Certificate of Nomination attached, featuring the Ontario government logo and the address of 400 University Avenue – the offices of the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.
With the latest attempts to scam unassuming members of the public happening more frequently, here are five types of immigration fraud you need to be able to spot:
1) The Phishing Email
The latest Ontario case is a good example of this, one of the most frequently used fraud attempts.
Scammers send out emails claiming to be from a certain immigration office – in the above case Ontario – and ask for some kind of fee to continue with an application.
These group emails are usually sent to random recipients, meaning members of the public who have never had any need for immigration services can receive the message.
The scammers are hoping to catch one or two candidates for whom the email might seem realistic.
Such emails used to be easy to spot because of their poor grammar or tone that lacked authenticity. But the scammers are catching on to this and making the messages more professional, so beware.
Ontario released the following advice on how to spot a fraudulent email:
- No Certificate of Nomination will ever be emailed to you by the OINP.
- The contact telephone and fax number on the certificate contain a (708) area code. This is not an area code used in Ontario and is not connected to the OINP in any way.
- The false nomination certificate refers to the CIC Visa Office. The federal government has changed the name of the department that deals with Canadian immigration. It is now called Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
- You will never be asked to make a payment to the OINP through a wire transfer, and you will never be asked to pay a ‘Right of Permanent Residence Fee’. Applicants to the OINP pay a one-time upfront administration fee to the program, through the online system, and do not pay for a nomination certificate when and if it is granted.
2) The Phone Call
Much like the email scam, phone fraudsters will call and claim to be from a certain Canadian immigration office. Recent examples have seen scammers attempt to imitate officials from the federal IRCC.
They will dress up the conversation in all kinds of official-sounding language, before eventually getting around to some kind of request for payment.
The IRCC has issued the following advice:
- We will not telephone you to collect money or payments. We may sometimes contact clients by telephone to get more information to continue processing an application, or to ask for more documents.
- We will NEVER ask you for any sort of payment by telephone.
- We also will not ask you to confirm basic personal information that you already gave us on an application form (for example, your date of birth, passport number, etc.).
- People can use telephone scams to steal your money or identity. We take strict measures to keep your information confidential.
- You should be very careful of scams asking for details like your credit card, bank account or passport numbers, and any other types of personal information.
3) The Fake Immigration Website
It does not take much for a dedicated fraudster to copy a website, or create one that looks a lot like the official IRCC portal.
Often, they will also put out phoney internet ads design to drive traffic to their site, promising faster processing for immigration applications, or guaranteeing passage to Canada.
The simple rule here is: do not trust anything that sounds too good to be true. Processing times have nothing to do with anyone except case officers at the IRCC. And no-one is guaranteed a successful application.
The IRCC has the following advice:
- If the website claims to offer special deals to people who want to immigrate, don’t deal with them. Do not pay for offers of guaranteed entry into Canada or faster processing of your application. These claims are false.
- Check the address in your browser’s address bar when you land on a website. It should match the address you typed.
Here are some other ways to protect yourself:
- Never enter private information unless there is a padlock in the browser window or ”https://” at the beginning of the web address to show it is secure.
- If a website seems wrong to you, do a web search to see if anyone has reported any problems with that site.
- Make sure your browser is up-to-date. Browser filters can help detect fake websites.
- Beware of websites advertised in emails from strangers that you did not ask for.
- Don’t give out personal information unless you are sure you know whom you are dealing with.
- If in doubt, contact the website owner by telephone or email before you do anything.
4) Charging for A Job Offer
A bona fide job offer will never come without an interview. In certain cases, scammers will guarantee a job offer and ask for a fee for the service. This is illegal in many Canadian jurisdictions.
Fraudsters know a job offer can be a key element to a successful Canadian immigration application. Often a paid-for job offer will never materialize, or if the authorities find out about it, the candidate’s case could be rejected.
If you are a genuine candidate looking for a job in Canada, you can access our expert recruitment services.
5) Immigration Lawyer or Immigration Consultant?
Whether it be our services or another attorney, immigration.ca would always recommend hiring an immigration lawyer over an immigration consultant.
The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) is on the verge of being disbanded because of the number of documented self-governing problems and unlicensed rogue consultants especially overseas, being allowed to slip through the net.
Candidates who believe they are on the verge of a successful application can find themselves rejected because of an unlicensed immigration consultant they used.
Immigrating to Canada is difficult for the vast majority of intending applicants. There are 14 different jurisdictions with each having a role to play, and rules changing weekly. It is always best to hire an experienced licensed practicing lawyer as apposed to an immigration consultant.
What is the difference between hiring a lawyer and hiring a licensed consultant?
A consultant is any person called on to give advice. A lawyer (attorney, barrister or solicitor) is licensed to perform legal functions. These may include:
- Drafting documents
- Interpreting and applying laws
- Giving legal advice
- Representing clients in court
The practice of law is regulated by each of the provinces. A lawyer must have the following credentials:
- Bachelor of law degree (3 years) from a recognized university
- Law admission examinations
- Training (usually 6 months) under an approved practicing lawyer
The conduct of lawyers in Canada is regulated by the Professional Order of Lawyers (POL).
POL rules cover areas including:
- Separate trust bank accounts for client fees
- Obligations of lawyers towards clients
- Performance of mandates
- Extensive mandatory continuing legal education
The distinction can be best understood from our writing first posted in 1995, which you can read here. Taking into account all the above factors, will help minimize unwanted outcomes in this area.
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