Suddenly, immigration into Canada scams are surging: Internet Scambusters #1,072
In 2015, only a few hundred Americans secured immigration to Canada through the nation's Express Entry program. Last year there were 10,000. And probably thousands more who didn't get in.
With immigration applications to Canada surging in recent years, scammers have ramped up their game.
If you're thinking of moving North, this week's issue explains the top scams to be on the alert for.
Let's get started…
Ghost Consultants And Phony Marriage Offers Lead Canada Immigration Scams
There are few more controversial topics in the US than immigration. As well as being a political hot potato, it's also an area that's rife with scams.
What a lot of people don't know is that immigration by Americans into Canada is also a target for fraudsters.
Recent years have seen a surge in the number of people wanting to resettle with our northern neighbor. And Canada takes in proportionately four times the number of immigrants each year than the US.
But it's not easy because of fairly strict entry and employment rules. And there are no special favors for Americans, 10,000 of whom moved up there legally last year through Canada's Express Entry program.
That might not seem a big number but it compared with just 600 Americans just a few years earlier. And, according to the Canadian immigration news website CIC, "The staggering growth of immigrants moving from the US to Canada is likely actually under-stating the extent of the growth."
Enter the scammers, people who falsely represent their ability to help would-be inward migrants to Canada.
For example, a Vancouver woman was recently alleged to have defrauded dozens of people (not necessarily Americans) wanting to move permanently. She was accused in a class action lawsuit of charging up to $5,000 each for a non-existent immigration program, according to a report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). She has denied the claim.
Top Immigration Scams to Canada
Scammers use four main tricks to take big money from their victims, some of whom can ill-afford the cost.
Bogus consultants: "Ghost consultants," as they're called, are fraudsters who claim expertise and, often, official links with the Canadian immigration authorities. They charge big fees by claiming they can secure visas and speed up the entire process. Sometimes, they do more harm than good by providing false, misleading, or inaccurate information.
Fake job offers: As with most Western countries, getting a job in Canada is one of the quickest and most successful ways of securing immigration and, eventually, permanent residency. So, scammers advertise non-existent jobs, posing as employers or recruitment agencies who, they say, will handle all the complexities or with getting an initial work visa. Then they use a variety of schemes to get their victims to pay in advance, for example, claiming they must pay a large sum for the work permit.
Marriage fraud: Being married to a citizen of most countries usually gets people past immigration restrictions. So, posing as a Canadian in search of love - or even simply for a marriage of convenience - is a big lure for intended immigrants. The scammers often demand money or force victims into signing legal documents.
Lottery scams: Unlike the US, Canada does not have an immigration lottery. But that doesn't stop scammers from claiming they do - and then telling their victims they've been selected to immigrate. They use email, text messages, or phone calls to tell individuals that they've won a lottery or been awarded a place on a special immigration program to Canada. Victims are then asked to provide personal information, pay fees, or transfer money to claim immigrant status.
How to Protect Yourself
Obviously, the first thing you should do if you're thinking of moving to Canada is to gain a full understanding to the nation's rules and regulations regarding immigration. There are lots of useful sources online but it's wise to go straight to "the horse's mouth," in this case the government department known as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). You can also contact the IRCC's call center at 1-888-242-2100.
Second, if you decide to use a consultant, research them and their reputation thoroughly. Importantly, check that they are registered and licensed with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC).
And third, be ultra-cautious about unsolicited contact via email, text, and phone. These messages could be about some of the scams outlined above, notably winning a lottery or the services of a recruitment agency. Legitimate sources don't make unsolicited contact like this.
For the same reason, be wary of advertisements about jobs or claiming "guaranteed" jobs or visas. In fact, the more positive the tone of these ads, the higher the risk of a scam.
Also, although some genuine consultants may charge an upfront or early fee, never pay by untraceable methods like cryptocurrency, cash wires, or gift cards. These are always a scam.
Finally, as we always advise, trust your instincts. If something feels strange or worrying about a particular immigration route, it's your gut warning you of potential danger. And if you do fall victim, report it to the IRCC.
This Week's Alerts
Text losses: Americans handed over $330 million to text scammers last year, a huge leap from the $131 million reported in 2021, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced. Bank impersonation was the most common type of scam text, followed by fake package delivery messages. Median losses doubled to $1000 per victim.
Covid kits: The Covid pandemic may be over, but scammers are still cashing in on the health emergency. They're sending unordered test kits to seniors and then billing Medicare. In some cases, they don't even send kits but still charge Medicare. If you get a kit you didn't ask for or a charge for kits you never received shows up on your statement, tell Medicare and the US Health Department's complaint hotline.
That's it for today -- we hope you enjoy your week!