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July 25, 2023

Charges laid in scam that impacted 700 Indian international students

Published on July 22nd, 2023 at 08:00am EDT

The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) has laid charges against Brijesh Mishra for his involvement in defrauding 700 international students from India.

The release from June 23 states that Mishra was charged with the following:

  • IRPA Section 91(1) Unauthorized Representation or Advice for Consideration – one count
  • IRPA Section 126 Counselling Misrepresentation – one count
  • IRPA Section 127(a) Misrepresentation (Direct or Indirect Misrepresentation) – one count
  • IRPA Section 127(b) Misrepresentation (Communicating False Information) – one count
  • IRPA Section 124(1)(a) Non-Compliance with the Act – one count

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The charges stem from the discovery that 700 students from India had been issued false letters of admission from Canadian educational institutions. CBSA officials discovered the fraud after the students, many of whom had arrived in 2018-2019 and already completed their studies and gained Canadian work experience, were applying for permanent residence in Canada.

The students had all applied for study visas through Education Migration Services, which was located in Jalandhar, India. Mishra, the head of the firm, charged the students thousands of dollars related to college admission and visa applications. The company’s office has since closed, and Mishra was nowhere to be found until recently.

After his arrest it was discovered that Mishra had been living in Surrey, British Columbia, illegally after having his visa revoked in 2019 for “ghost consulting”. The Toronto Star reports that two co-directors of the company have also been arrested and denied bail in India.

IRCC task force against fraud

The announcement that Mishra had been charged came just days after Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced a special task force to investigate each affected student and decide on a case-by-case basis if they had been victims of fraud.

Fraser said this will allow each student the opportunity to demonstrate if they knew about the fraudulent letters. Students who knowingly broke the rules will be subject to consequences, including removal.

Those who are deemed unaware of the fraud will not be deported and will instead be issued a temporary resident permit so they may remain in Canada.

Going forward, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will work with Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs), provinces and territories, and organizations that represent Canada’s colleges and universities abroad to help detect fraud.

Avoiding fraud as an international student

International students are often victims of fraud by people seeking to take advantage of them at a vulnerable time.

In this case, the students fell victim to a “ghost consultant.” These are unlicensed immigration representatives who pose as legitimate and offer services to international students, such as helping with admission into an educational institution or assisting with a visa application. Once students pay a (usually very high) fee the consultant breaks off all communication and disappears with the money.

Other common frauds include phishing, fake job offers and housing scams. They may not always be easy to spot but students can protect themselves by being very cautious about who they give personal information to and never respond to unsolicited or suspicious phone calls, emails or texts that ask for financial information or money.

It can also help to remember that if something seems too good to be true, such as a job offer or finding accommodation, it is probably a scam. Spend as much time as possible verifying any potential immigration consultant, employer, or landlord.

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