Protecting Newcomers: A Guide to Avoiding Scams Targetting Immigrants in Canada

July 13, 2023

As the appeal of Canada's opportunities attracts immigrants from around the world, newcomers must be aware of the potential risks they may encounter along their immigration journey. Scammers often target immigrants, preying on their vulnerability and lack of understanding of Canadian systems.

With the right knowledge and support, our rural Alberta communities can empower immigrants coming to Canada to avoid immigration scams. The common scams immigrants might face include impersonation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) or government agencies, fake job offers, sponsorship fraud, and education credential fraud. By understanding these scams and knowing how to avoid them, immigrants and their caregivers can protect themselves and their dreams of starting a new life in Canada.

Understanding Immigration Scams

Unfortunately, new immigrants to Canada are often the targets of scammers. They can play on the emotions immigrants are experiencing. New residents hope to obtain legal status, but they fear being deported. Any threat to their new home can seem all too real for them. Also, because they are from other countries, scammers can often exploit their lack of understanding of the English language. Scammers also know that immigrants are unfamiliar with how government agencies and businesses operate in this new country.

Common Immigration Scams in Canada

1. Impersonation of the RCMP or government agencies

Scammers will impersonate government officials or the RCMP to try and scare new residents by claiming they have done something wrong. Their claim could be as small as not filing the proper paperwork or as substantial as committing a crime. They may say the person can lose their immigration status or be deported to get them to pay their demands.

But what you should remember is that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will never:

  • Contact you over the phone 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 the information you already gave)
  • Ask for financial information over the phone
  • Ask you to pay fees using prepaid credit cards, Western Union, Money Gram, gift cards, or any other similar services
  • Send the police to arrest you

2. Employment scams

A job is very important to immigrants. It allows you to take care of your everyday needs and your family. A job is mandatory if you are eligible for either the Federal Skilled Worker Program or the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

Because newcomers to Canada may not be familiar with the job market and need a position, they may be vulnerable to fraud. Scammers make fake job postings to entice new or would-be immigrants into providing their personal information or even paying to apply.

Here are some warning signs to keep in mind:

Unsolicited job offers: Be cautious if you receive a job offer out of the blue, particularly if you didn't apply for the position or have no prior knowledge of the company contacting you.

Poorly written or vague job descriptions: If you come across job postings with generic descriptions, grammatical errors, or incomplete information, it's a potential sign of a scam.

Requests for personal information upfront: Be cautious if a job opportunity requires you to provide sensitive information like your social insurance number, passport details, or financial information right from the start.

Upfront fees or payment requests: Authentic job offers should never require you to pay money upfront to secure employment. If a potential employer asks for payment for things like training materials, job placement, or administrative fees, it may be a scam.

Unprofessional communication: If you notice inconsistent email domains, generic email addresses, or difficulty reaching the company through legitimate channels, exercise caution.

3. Counterfeit sponsorship claims

Scammers create enticing sponsorship opportunities, promising a faster and smoother immigration process. These fraudsters often present themselves as employers or individuals willing to sponsor applicants for employment or family-based sponsorship programs. However, they are exploiting vulnerable immigrants for financial gain.

You must be vigilant and recognize the warning signs to safeguard yourself from falling prey to fake sponsorship offers. Here are some red flags to watch out for:

Unsolicited offers: Beware of receiving unexpected sponsorship offers through email, social media, or phone calls.

Exorbitant fees: Fake sponsors often demand fees upfront or ask for excessive payment amount

Guarantees and unrealistic promises: Be cautious of sponsors who make unrealistic promises of guaranteed approval or expedited processing times.

Lack of documentation and transparency: If the sponsor avoids sharing essential information or fails to provide written agreements, it is a warning sign of a potential scam.

More Scams Targetting Immigrants

Reporting Scams and Seeking Assistance

If you are ever uncertain about communication you have with an individual claiming to be from the Canadian government, the Canadian police force or an employer in Canada, take the time to look into it further or make a report.

If you are the victim of fraud or suspect you have been in contact with a scammer, there are several steps you can take to keep yourself and other immigrants like you safe.

As immigrants embark on their journey to Canada, it is crucial to be aware of the potential risks posed by immigration scams. By understanding common immigration scams and knowing how to spot them, immigrants can protect themselves and their dreams of a life in Canada.

In Canada, we are one big community. We support each other in building safer homes and preventing crime. With knowledge and support, newcomers can navigate their immigration journey with confidence and build a secure and prosperous future in Canada.