Avoiding Canadian Immigration Fraud

Last updated: 27 March 2023

Fraud prevention canadavisa

Fraud can be a prevalent problem for newcomers and immigration candidates to Canada.

In fact, in March of every year Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) participates in Fraud Prevention Month, as part of the Government of Canada’s initiative to help educate the public on possible scams they may face, and how to avoid them.

According to Statistics Canada, the incidence of cybercrime in the country related to fraud has almost tripled since 2017, to a total of more than 33,000 cases. Newcomers can be especially vulnerable to these scams, and as such IRCC has emphasised key information for immigrants and temporary residents to note, which has been summarised below.

Table of Contents

    What kinds of fraud can affect newcomers?

    People posing as Government of Canada staff

    In this kind of fraud, someone poses as a government official over the phone, usually trying to illicit fees from an unsuspecting victim. Often fraudsters may try to scare their targets, claiming that the victim owes them money for submitting incorrect paperwork, or that the victim may lose their immigration status. Fraudsters may even threaten a person’s home or family.

    If one gets a suspicious immigration call, it is advised by IRCC that they:

    • Ask for the name of the person calling and then hang up;
    • Report any money lost to the local police authority;
    • Contact the IRCC call centre to confirm whether the call was real; and
    • If the call was fraudulent, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center (CAFC).

    Additionally, if the call involved possible tax fraud, it is advised to confirm the call by contacting the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA).

    Receiving fake emails 

    Newcomers may receive emails trying to convince them to invest money of give personal information/passwords related to their banking accounts. Often this person may also pose as a government official.

    IRCC recommends deleting the email immediately. Newcomers should also note scam websites that emails may redirect them to, prompting the input of their personal information. Always be sure about a website’s authenticity before entering any personal information.

    Computer Viruses

    Another common scam involves computer viruses. In this instance, a person may receive a call from a scammer claiming their computer has been infected by a virus. The scammer (often claiming to be employed from a software company) will offer to remove the virus, asking for computer passwords and other personal information to do so.

    It is advised to never give computer access or personal information to someone that was not contacted by the person themselves for help. IRCC further encourages everyone to get computer or software repairs done at a professional shop, and only to use anti-virus services from accredited individuals.

    Fake Prizes

    If one receives a phone call or text claiming that they have won something in a competition that they have not entered, it is likely a scam. Often these come in the form of text messages which prompt the entering of personal information.

    IRCC advises not entering any personal information. Further, it is recommended to not respond to the text messages in any way, as this is often method fraudsters use to confirm that they have a real phone number. Individuals in Canada can forward the text to 7726, allowing phone providers to block future texts from those numbers.

    In addition, newcomers should be aware of the following scams:

    • Misrepresentation of representatives/lawyers: Many fraudsters may pose as immigration consultants, or even lawyers—offering fake services that have no benefit to an individual’s immigration chances. It is always advised to verify whether your immigration representative is accredited through public registries and directories;
    • Fraudulent job offers—Some scammers may offer illegitimate job offers to receive application fees from unsuspecting newcomers. It is always advised to check the validity of a job offer that one receives. In particular be wary of: unrealistic compensations, claims of completed work authorisations without prior interviews with an employer (or your participation as the foreign worker), missing or incorrect employer contact information, poor grammar, or weirdly formatted offer letters;
    • Admission letters from education institutions that are not Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs)—International students can be susceptible to fraudulent offer letters. Often the institutions may be legitimate, but not registered DLIs (meaning they are not authorised to accept international students). This scam can often take place with an intermediary representative, who is often involved in the scam. International students applying to institutions in Canada are always encouraged to check if their school is a DLI.

    What can I do to protect myself from scams?

    Newcomers in Canada are encouraged to:

    • Never share their passwords, PINs, banking or personal information before verifying the authenticity of the person or website prompting them;
    • Exercise caution around unknown emails. Avoid opening these messages, or clicking on any links within;
    • Refrain from acting quickly. Often scammers may rush individuals into making urgent decisions, to fluster them into giving up sensitive information.

    Important things to remember

    Newcomers and prospective immigrants are encouraged to keep in mind:

    • No one can guarantee you a job or a visa to Canada;
    • Only immigration officers in Canada, and at Canadian embassies, high commissions and consulates can decide to issue a visa;
    • Processing fees for IRCC services are the same in Canada and around the world. Fees in local currencies are based on official exchange rates;
    • IRCC will ask you to pay fees for Canadian government services to the “Receiver General for Canada”, unless stated difference on a Canadian visa office website; and to
    • Be cautious of representatives charging a fee for supporting documents, like a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

    It is also recommended to keep in mind that IRCC will never:

    • Contact an immigration candidate over the telephone to collect fees or fines,
    • Be aggressive or threaten to arrest or deport;
    • Threaten to harm or a member of their family, or damage their home or property;
    • Ask for personal information over the phone (except to verify information already given);
    • Ask for financial information or payment over the phone;
    • Try to rush an individual into paying right away;
    • Ask for payment using prepaid credit cards, Western Union, Money Gram, gift cards, or any other similar services; or
    • Send police to arrest for unpaid fees.

    What can I do if I suspect that I have been scammed?

    If fraudulent behaviour is suspected individuals are encouraged to contact their financial institution. They can work to minimise any potentially fraudulent activity by freezing accounts and issuing new credit/debit cards.

    In addition, newcomers can report cases of fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center (CAFC), and their local police station. The CAFC is a national fraud reporting centre which collects information about frauds and scams and provides the public with resources to recognise and protect themselves from scams.

    About CanadaVisa and Cohen Immigration Law

    Cohen Immigration Law is a leading Canadian immigration law firm with over 45 years of experience. Cohen Immigration Law features over 60 immigration lawyers, paralegals, and professionals who are dedicated to helping you immigrate to Canada.

    CanadaVisa.com was founded as the online presence of Cohen Immigration Law. Since its launch in 1994, CanadaVisa has grown into one of the globe's most trusted resources on Canadian immigration. Please contact us if you require legal assistance.

    Skilled Worker Assistance

    Find out if you are eligible to immigrate to Canada through one of the country's over 100 skilled worker options.

    Assess me

    Family Sponsorship Assistance

    See if you are eligible to sponsor a loved one, or be sponsored by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

    Assess me

    Other Immigration Enquiries

    Contact us about work permits, study permits, business immigration, citizenship, and inadmissibility.

    Contact us

    Memberships of the Cohen Immigration Law Immigration Law Firm