Welcome to Canada...Beware of Scammers

June 30, 2016


Vancouver, BC - As thousands of Canadian newcomers prepare to take their oath of citizenship during Canada Day ceremonies, BBB is warning immigrants and new Canadians that scammers are always ready for new targets.

"Scammers prey on immigrants who aren't familiar with our language, legal system and other areas of western culture and try to take advantage of their trust and money," says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. "Sometimes newcomers don't want to speak up to ask questions if they're unsure of something or feel embarrassed to come forward if they do find themselves caught in a scam. Many of our public presentations throughout the year are in front of groups like this to help raise awareness."

Here are some common scams that target immigrants:

  • The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Scam: In 2015, the CRA scam cost Canadians $2.9 million. Scammers impersonate the CRA and usually target newcomers with aggressive phone calls or emails claiming they owe the government money. If they don't pay, the scammers threaten the newcomer with deportation, to be thrown in jail or even have their kids taken away from them.

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Scam: This operates much like the CRA scam. The victims are threatened with deportation over the phone unless they pay to re-register with CIC.
  • Employment Scams: A variety of different types including mystery shopper jobs, work-from-home opportunities, companies that require you to buy materials or pay to work there, or companies that ask for your social insurance number or other personal information before they hire you.
  • Rental Scams: Fraudsters renting properties that aren't theirs or don't exist.
  • Passport/Identification Fraud: Scammers impersonating people in positions of authority such government officials, lawyers and immigration consultants.
  • Dating and Marriage Scams: Fraudsters initiating romantic relationships online or in person for the sole purpose of taking the victim's money.

How scammers contact newcomers:

  • In Person: Affinity scams are often conducted in person by someone you know. These scams exploit trust and friendship.
  • Over the Phone: Examples include grandparent scams (people pretending to be a young relative of a grandparent who needs money for an emergency) or a phoney tax collector who requires money or identity.
  • On the Internet: Scammers pretending to represent Revenue Canada or other government officials are examples of Internet fraud. Both scams are looking for money or identity information such as a social security number (SIN). Sites like Kijiji and Craigslist are also favourite places for scammers.

  • By Mail: Lottery scams and mystery shopper scams are commonly distributed through the mail. Both scams ask for money up front before the transaction can be completed.
  • Through Publications: Includes newspaper ads advertising non-existent rental properties and phoney offers of employment.

So how do newcomers protect themselves?

  • Install anti-virus software, filters, and firewall programs on your computer.
  • Don't reply to any requests for your personal or financial information.
  • Verify the request for information is legitimate.
  • Delete suspicious emails and then delete them from your trash.
  • Monitor your bank statements regularly.
  • Deal with legitimate investment advisors.
  • Don't wire money to people you don't know.
  • It’s OK to hang up the phone or close the door.


Media contacts:

Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor
BBB Serving Mainland BC
Phone: 604-488-8702
Mobile: 604-505-2307
404-788 Beatty Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 2M1

About BBB:

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses and brands they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews, all available for free at bbb.org. BBB Serving Mainland B.C., founded in 1939 and serving the Lower Mainland, Thompson-Okanagan, Northern, Central and Southern Interior BC, and the Yukon, is one of 111 local, independent BBBs across North America. In 2015, consumers turned to BBB Serving Mainland B.C. more than 2 million times for Business Reviews and processed 7,500 complaints.