The government of Canada and IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) are warning immigrants about a scam targeting them through social media. Some individuals have created a presence on Facebook and possibly other social media platforms, where these individuals claim they are immigration consultants linked with the Canadian government. In exchange for thousands of dollars, they claim they can guarantee respondents can immigrate to Canada. So far, many of these sites have been in Arabic, but other languages may also follow from other fraudsters.
Another recent scam involves individuals contacting people directly through social media. They claim to be consultants and make promises about helping others immigrate to Canada. So far, people in Lebanon and Turkey have been contacted with this scam.
Scams are Not New
Social media and Internet scams targeting immigrants to Canada are unfortunately not new. Individuals posing as consultants or members of the Canadian government and asking for money in exchange for government services are all too common.
Another common and ongoing scam involved marriage fraud. Individuals sometimes make contact through social media and start romantic relationships. If these relationships lead to marriage, victims can become entangled in immigration fraud. A Canadian citizen or permanent resident may be contacted by a foreign national, for instance, and may start a romantic relationship. If the relationship proceeds to marriage, a fraudster may come to Canada, seek money from their new spouse, and may even leave. The Canadian citizen or permanent resident will be responsible for repaying any social assistance the foreign national spouse has used in Canada, which can add up to tens of thousands of dollars. The Canadian citizen or permanent resident spouse may also be accused of immigration fraud if it is suspected they knew the marriage was not genuine. A person found guilty of immigration fraud can face up to five years in jail and fines of up to $100,000.
How to Protect Yourself
Keep in mind that the IRCC does not use social media to provide its services. They also do not contact individuals directly through social media or ask for payments through social media. Review this list of additional ways to avoid being targeted by scams:
- Be aware of any social media, Internet, or phone contact who asks for personal information. Do not hand out your credit card, passport, bank PIN, or bank account numbers. Be cautious when giving your name, contact information, birthdate, and other personal information, since it can be used to steal money from your accounts or steal your identity.
- Just because someone has a Canadian flag on their site or claims to work for the Canadian government, it does not mean they are telling the truth. Always contact the government and IRCC directly yourself when you have questions—this is the best way to verify the information you have received.
- Be aware of any promises that seem too good to be true. No one can guarantee your immigration application will be accepted, not even the Canadian government. If someone promises you fast acceptance, guaranteed acceptance, better or “special” processing of immigration forms, a guaranteed job, and other benefits in exchange for money, it is likely a scam.
- Be careful what you say on social media in general. If you state you are hoping you immigrate to Canada or are seeking to immigrate to another country, this may make it easier for fraudsters to contact you. Be careful about adding people you don’t know to your friend’s lists on social media or speaking to someone over social media if you don’t know them in real life. It is difficult to verify identities online.
- Check everything you read on social media. If you read about an offer or a service online, check it using the official government of Canada website and the news media. Be aware that anyone can set up a social media account or website and can write anything they wish, even if it is not truthful.
- Never give personal information or payment information over an unsecured, unverified site. Always look for an icon at the top of the page, near the URL and make sure the website address begins with https://. Sites beginning with http:// (with no “s”) are not secure for online payment.
If you have made a mistake and have become the victim of fraud, report the crime to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. They can provide more information about the steps you can take to minimize the danger to you and your finances.
Are You Looking for Real Information about Canadian Immigration?
If you are looking for reliable information, visit Immigration Direct. We have reliable resources to help you apply for Express Entry and other immigration programs. We also have a free glossary and other free resources which allow you to learn more about immigration to Canada at no charge and with no obligation. We help you find local IRCC offices and check processing times. Check us out today!