Ottawa warns of phone scam targeting immigrants and refugee claimants

RCI Radio Canada International - The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre are sounding the alarm bells over a phone scam targeting recent immigrants and refugees particularly in the Greater Toronto and Vancouver areas.

Victims of this scam receive phone calls from people claiming to be representatives of the IRB and are told that they are under investigation and owe money to the government.

In some instances, these calls are even made to appear to be coming from the IRB or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, IRB officials said in a press-release. The scam appears to be the same scam that began in December 2017.

“The IRB takes the privacy and security of all our clients very seriously as refugee matters, for example, can often be matters of life and death,” said in a statement Paul Aterman, the IRB’s acting chairperson. “On top of that, we are continuing to take steps to stop this scam and protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society.  The IRB will never ask anyone for money.”

The IRB is working with law enforcement agencies to identify the perpetrators and bring an end to this scam, officials said.

Jeff Thomson, acting manager at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, said if anyone receives such a call, the best course of action is to immediately hang up and contact the centre at 1-888-495-8501.

“If you receive a call from someone saying they are from the government of Canada who proceeds to ask you for money, be aware that this is a scam,” Thomson said in a statement. “You should report these types of calls to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.”

If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud, call your local police as soon as possible, he added