Unfortunately, immigration fraud is an unfortunate reality in our world today. Clients inform us about previous experiences with “fake” companies that take their payment for immigration services and then run off with the money. Even worse, some people even go through identity fraud – where a company will steal their identity and bank account information. It doesn’t matter if you’ll retain the services of our firm; it’s important that you’re informed of the dangers of fraud so you can be on the lookout for scams.
Here are some red flags to watch out for from immigration fraud. They don’t necessarily mean you’re dealing with a scammer but be careful. Everyone deserves to have a trustworthy and dependable immigration consultant or lawyer by their side during the process—someone who will take care of them and eliminate their stress.
1. Can’t provide an ICCRC number or a listing of provincial law associations
Lawyers and immigration consultants are the only two types of individuals who are legally permitted to take payment for Canadian immigration services.
Any lawyer who claims to be a Canadian immigration lawyer should be able to provide proof of their qualifications. For instance, you can find Attorney Renaud Dery on the Barreau du Québec website, which is an indication that he is within the province of Québec and authorized by the law society. For a complete list of provincial and territorial law societies, visit the government webpage ‘Find out if your representative is authorized.
- Immigration Consultants
Consultants must be certified members of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC) to provide Canadian immigration services. You can find the registry of all Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) on their dedicated website. It is illegal for a consultant not regulated by CICC to provide services.
2. Can’t find the immigration firm online or their website seems suspect
All Canadian companies and firms have some online presence. Usually, they’ll be present on social media like Facebook and have their own website. If you cannot find the company or firm of the person e-mailing you by Googling it, or if their website seems suspicious, then it may be a scam. Make sure that you check the domain name of their e-mail address as well. If they’re using a generic service like Gmail or Hotmail to conduct business, this is a major red flag! Legitimate companies usually do not allow employees to use their personal email accounts for work purposes.
Signs that a website might be suspicious
- The website sells special deals to people who want to immigrate, guaranteed entry into Canada, or faster processing of your application.
- If the URL on your browser’s address bar is different than what you typed in, this may mean that you’ve been redirected and are now on a fake site.
- The website doesn’t have a ‘Contact Us‘ page. Or, if it does, the information on it is inaccurate.
- Websites that ask for personal information should be secure and have an SSL certificate on them. The following should always occur:
-The website should start with https://
-It will have a lock
-It will tell you who was issued the SSL certificate
3. You are assured of a successful application
No one can guarantee the result of your application – this is something that’s extremely important to our firm. We never guarantee success, and always work with clients in an honest manner. It’s honesty, in addition to the quality of service we provide, that keeps clients coming back to us time and time again.
A company’s guarantee like “get your (any country) visa for guaranteed!” should always be avoided. Immigration decisions are made by the immigration officer, who works for that country’s government. That’s the only one who can give you a visa. Anyone else promising you a visa is committing an act of fraud.
4. You have been asked to deposit money into a personal bank account or make a payment in other unusual ways
All payments should be made in a company name, not in an individual’s name. If you are dealing with a lawyer, the funds will usually be deposited into an account for the applicant so the funds will be held until the job is done.
Immigration consultants and attorneys will rarely accept cash as a method of payment. This is a serious red flag, and you should avoid using it. Cash is virtually untraceable and without a formal receipt, it can disappear quickly. Another unusual payment method would be paying to an unknown financial institution. Before trusting any company that offers this type of payment, research it thoroughly.
5. You receive an unsolicited e-mail or phone call
One red flag that may or may not be a scam to watch out for is when you receive an unsolicited e-mail or phone call. It is unlikely that an immigration company would reach out to you without your initial contact, so take precautions and do some research before taking any action. If a company contacts you out of nowhere, it may just be trying to build its customer base. However, you want to choose a company with many years of experience dealing in immigration and with proven records for success.
What should you do if you suspect you have been a victim of immigration fraud?
If you are in Canada:
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is a national service to combat fraud. If you think you’re the victim of fraud, contact them right away at 1-888-495-8501.
If you are outside of Canada:
It’s a good idea to report any suspicious dealings to the police.
To see if you qualify for immigration, take our free online assessment.