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South Africans are losing hundreds of thousands of rands to immigration fraudsters offering jobs in Canada in ‘the perfect scam’

Source: Business Insider SA, 08/03/2020

South African family has lost around R100,000 to scammers who
promised to get them into Canada. Others regularly pay up to
R80,000 to `consultancies` that guarantee jobs in the likes of
Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal ` and so, residency in Canada.
And as long as the victims are truly committed to emigrating from
South Africa, such scams are the perfect crime, say specialist
immigration consultants.
`That`s the genius of the scam,` says Nicholas Avramis of Cape-
Town based Beaver Immigration Consulting. `If you go public and
the Canadian government finds out, whether what you did was
illegal or not, you`ll never get into Canada.`
Admitting to having been involved in a scheme to defraud
immigration authorities ` even as victim ` could also affect even
normal visitor visa prospects for the likes of the United Kingdom
and New Zealand too, Avramis says, so anyone who wants to leave
South Africa is unlikely to report the crime.
In some cases immigration consultants believe their clients have
been scammed, but do not want to admit it even within that
relationship, simply because they are embarrassed. Avramis,
however, believes this kind of fraud runs into millions of rands
every year in South Africa, based on anecdotal evidence such as
the family that paid R100,000.
Avramis points to Canada`s genuine plan to attract one million new
immigrants over the next three years as a likely reason why such
scams seem to be growing more prevalent in South Africa.
But there is also a plausible local reason for what he too
believes is an uptick in such fraud, says Robbie Ragless, managing
director of New World Immigration.
With renewed political and economic uncertainty in South Africa
even legitimate and mostly-legitimate immigration consultants are
ramping up marketing efforts to attract customers, says Ragless.
`I`d be shocked if there wasn’t a dramatic spike in spam artists
in this arena right now just because of how desperate people are,`
he says.
The highest single number Ragless has seen lost to an immigration
scam was R80,000, but he believes a large number of people are
regularly being talked out of smaller sums, often after they are
told they will have trouble being accepted into another country,
and then suddenly getting a call from a consultancy that offers a
sure-fire solution.
In one test, says Ragless, New World created a `ghost profile` of
a 55-year-old menial labourer, `literally the least promising
immigration candidate ever`. That fake profile was guaranteed
entry into Canada, in one of the cases New World is now reporting
to the Canadian government.
Neither Avramis nor Ragless are entirely sure why their clients
would fall for such fraud, despite the Canadian government`s
efforts to warn of immigration scams and helpful tools such as a
checklist of warning signs that you may be dealing with a scam
immigration website.
A mixture of desperation, confusion about bureaucratic rules, and
a simple belief that anyone charging a lot of money must be
legitimate all seem to contribute, though.
How not to get scammed on a Canadian visa
South Africans seem to be targeted in several different types of
emigration scams. Some involve `guaranteed jobs` in Canada (though
a job offer alone is not sufficient for entry into that country),
others offer `assessments` at fees of up to $800 per person.
The Canadian government recommends neither paying money nor
providing personal information to anyone but a trusted provider,
as even personal details can be misused, or be a starting point
for extortion.
It is an offence under Canadian law to take money for immigration
services if not regulated by Canadian law society the ICCRC, or
the Chambre des notaires du Québec.
A list of accredited providers is available at http://iccrc-
crcic.info/find-a-professional/.


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