Anti-fraud investigates case

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Anti-fraud investigates complain by woman who asks refund

Anti-fraud centre is investigating a complaint made after woman asked for refund. The immigration consultancy denied her request, and now she demands accountability. Rene Todd asked for a simple refund after signing up for an online Canadian immigration service in August. The South African citizen changed her mind and wanted her money back, but unfortunately, she was denied. Moreover, after a string of emails and many months later, nothing happened of her request. These so-called ‘immigration services’ remain largely outside of legislation.

Todd said: ‘I cannot stand unfairness’. She also added: ‘It was actually also almost a fascination with getting to the truth of exactly what is going on here. So it probably did get into something a little bit bigger than a refund’. The immigration service calls itself Professional Immigration Consultants of Canada, or PROICC. According to the website, it offers basic services such as visa assessment and support to applications through the help of ‘immigration professionals’. PROICC declares its focus lies on helping clients start their immigration process to Canada ‘in the earliest and quickest’ way possible.

The PROICC website sports ‘testimonials’ claiming a happy experience with the service. However, some of these also figure in praising of a similar U.S. cmmigration consultancy. This raises doubts they may be fake profiles.

How the fraud happened

Todd first approached the company after taking an online test for eligibility to immigration in Canada via ad. A representative called her to tell her of the eligibility, but the same became confrontational after Todd started not replying calls. Todd said she ‘did not with to look not serious in such a serious matter’. That is why she continued the transaction. After she asked for a refund, a so-called representative named Amelia Adams from the PROICC ‘legal division’ contacted her. Adams explained Todd that because PROICC is ‘an international company’, they have the prerogative to opt out of statutes on refunds under British Columbia law. That’s when Todd understood the fraud and contacted CBC News.

A quick search revealed that PROICC’s ‘testimonials’ might not be more than fake profiles, coupled with pictures to give a sense of realness. PROICC and another company – Canadaims Immigration Services’ are listed as Indigo Ltd., based in Ramat Gan, Israel. The terms and conditions attached to PROICC and Canadaims claims the companies are governed by the ‘Exclusive Courts of Spain’. After CBC started investigating, these term and conditions changed. Now, the companies archive documents not through the original website ‘itscanadatime.com’ but through the newly set-up ‘PROICC.com’.

The anti-fraud centre investigated and realised there were 3 other complaints against PROICC. One of them was from a family who lost everything back home and wanted a better life, so they sent PROICC over $2,970. PROICC told them they were excellent candidates for Express Entry system, but they would need to pay an additional $4500 to complete the process.

What now?

Apparently, after Todd went public through CBC, Adams called her 15 times to say refund was sent back to her. But Todd does not believe her and she has already cancelled her card. Meanwhile, Michael Huynh of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council, says there’s nothing much legislation can do. The only thing that works is ‘buyer beware’.

But there might be yet hope. Currently, the IRCC is looking to awaiting for Parliament to pass newer legislation in terms of immigration. This would give IRCC power to act as a ‘professional college’, regulating the immigration industry as a whole. For many, these might signify a dangerous bureaucratisation of the issue. But during these uncertain times, a clear and direct framework towards immigrating in Canada is long overdue.