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Victims Duped by Immigration Fraudster
An uncertified immigration consultant in Windsor has been charged with fraud after 11 clients allegedly paid him thousands of dollars for services they never received.
The victims made payments to the consultant ranging from $2,000 to $100,000 in the belief that applications to immigrate to Canada were being made on their behalf.
But no such applications were ever submitted, said investigators with the
Immigration and Passport Section of the Windsor RCMP.
Eleven counts of fraud have been laid against Francesco Salvatore Sam Burgio, 45, of Amherstburg, Ontario.
Police identified 11 victims, but believe there may be others.
Often, individuals who have been victimized are reluctant to come forward fearing that reporting their situation will interfere with their ability to gain legal immigration status in Canada, Cpl. Rod Rudiak of the Windsor RCMP said in a press release.
The Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) had revoked Burgios license back in 2006.
That should have set off red flags for anybody who was considering hiring him, CSIC Chair and Acting CEO John Ryan said in a release.
Most people would never consider hiring an unlicenced doctor or lawyer, and consumers need to realize that hiring an uncertified immigration consultant is just as unwise, he said.
In reaction to the arrest, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Minister Jason Kenney said Tuesday that unscrupulous immigration consultants heap misery upon their victims and pose a serious threat to the reputation of Canada’s immigration system.
The charges against Burgio come just weeks after Vancouver-based consultant Fereydoun Hadad was sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty in January to defrauding an Iranian man seeking to immigrate to Canada of over $49,000.
Hadad had convinced the would-be immigrant to set up a bank account in Canada and deposit money in it. By forging the mans signature, Hadad withdrew the funds for his personal use.
Unscrupulous consultants are a significant problem and tackling it requires all levels of government to work together and make it a priority, Kenney said a statement after Hadads conviction.
Preying on people who are desperate to have a new start in Canada, or who are trying to bring their family members here, is unconscionable. As the Speech from the Throne promised, we will be taking steps to address this, Kenney added.
Ryan welcomes a government crackdown on fraudulent immigration consultants, saying legal loopholes permitted the practice to go on for too long with little danger of legal repercussions.
Only members licenced with the CSIC, a provincial or territorial bar, or Quebec notaries may advise or represent clients before the Government of Canada for a fee. However, friends, family, or religious organizations may offer free help.
The CIC website states that the government will not deal with any unauthorized person charging a fee for immigration services. To assist prospective immigrants, the website provides detailed information about e-mail and Internet scams, fake websites, and computer viruses.
Dont be a victim of a scam. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, the CIC warns.
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