Goldhawk Fights Back: Tracking down the con artist consultants
This is a weekly column by Dale Goldhawk, Canada’s best-known consumer advocate. A journalist, author and broadcaster, Dale hosts Goldhawk Fights Back For You, on AM 740 or at AM740 ZoomerRadio, Monday through Friday from 11 am to 1 pm, in the eastern time zone. Visit his website at www.goldhawk.com.
There are so many sad and tragic stories and I have probably heard them all over the years.
Canada admits about a quarter-million immigrants every year, one of highest immigration rates in the world.
People from every country know this, of course. Many apply and relatively few are chosen. And many more are desperate to get into Canada and are willing to pay whatever it takes to get here.
Those desperate people are ripe for exploitation. That’s what con artists want — people who are worried, frustrated and vulnerable — potential victims who willsuspend their disbelief and fall for a phony pitch.
The worst offenders and the most profitable criminals operate almost totally in the shadows, appearing only long enough to bait their trap and grab the money.
These ghost consultants promise the world but deliver nothing but heartache and depleted bank accounts.
They are ghost consultants because they are largely unknown to the Canadian Government.
They build a dream world where they convince potential immigrants that they can get them into Canada. It matters not how complicated or hopeless the victim’s case might be. The ghost consultant will convince their targets it will all be smooth sailing, after they pay an expensive, up-front fee, usually involving several thousands of dollars.
Here’s the ghost part: the scammers don’t even go near the Canadian government. They do not advocate on behalf of their client/victims. They file no papers. They fill out no forms. They just take the money and like a typical ghost, they disappear.
The Liberal government tried to regulate immigration consultants six years ago — both the ghosts and those who actually got involved in immigration cases but proved to be incompetent or lazy or dishonest or over-priced, or all of the above.
The government facilitated the formation of a self-regulating Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants, hoping that would clean up the industry. But only the good guys joined. The bad guys carried on as usual.
So now the Conservative Government has presented tough legislation, packaged under its own self-promotional label. It’s called the Cracking Down on Crooked Consultants Act.
The legislation promises to crack down with tougher penalties, full disclosure, and better enforcement. And that includes appointing a watchdog who can bite back with real teeth.
Maximum fines of $50,000 and maximum jail time of two years might also help drive the bad guys away.
All this will not help fight back against the ghost consultants who operate outside Canada but it does, in effect, put a price on their butts if they venture into Canada.
Immigrants and refugees already have it tough enough. Many of them have already been victimized. They hardly need to be abused by crooks who will sell them what could be an impossible dream.
Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ david franklin
READ OTHER COLUMNS BY DALE GOLDHAWK
Gemini award nominee, journalist and broadcaster, Dale Goldhawk has earned Canada’s trust by his four decades of work exposing fraud and greed in the marketplace. To read more of his articles, go to www.Goldhawk.com (now part of the ZoomerMedia family of websites).
Don’t miss Goldhawk Fights Back , on the New AM740 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.