The RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] has launched an investigation into a website guaranteeing immigrants easy access to Canada and advising them to use false pretexts in order to take advantage of the country’s free health care and social programs.
On its website, which was taken offline on Thursday, Quick Visa Canada offered clients "a cheap, quick and effective way to come to Canada."
For $2,250 US, the company said, it would help potential immigrants come to Canada as tourists and then assist them in filing a claim for refugee status.
"We will provide you with a listing of different motives so that you can choose the one that best suits you," the company’s website said. "The motives that we will present to you are very easy to explain to the immigration officials. For example many of our clients choose the type of motives in which they claim that there were part of an organization (anti abortion, human rights, Gay or Lesbian movement, etc, etc) back in their home country and that some people were against that movement."
"We guarantee you that the immigration official will not return you to your country," the website said.
Organizations that provide assistance to immigrants and refugees were outraged by the website’s claims.
"As far as we’re concerned it is fraud, it is false representation," said Stephan Reichold, executive director of the Quebec Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Services.
"[The website] puts in doubt the integrity of the system. It opens the door to attacks — people will say all refugees are fraudsters," said Richard Goldman, co-ordinator of the committee to aid refugees.
Alleged ID theft
On the website, the company claims its founder is lawyer Claude Lamoureux, based in Chateauguay, Que.
But, when a team of reporters from CBC/Radio-Canada showed up at Lamoureux’s office — the man they met was not the one pictured on the website.
Lamoureux claimed he has been the victim of identity theft and said he has complained to the RCMP.Quick Visa Canada representative Hayde Linares said her job is only to refer refugees to a colleague in Egypt. Quick Visa Canada representative Hayde Linares said her job is only to refer refugees to a colleague in Egypt. (CBC)
CBC/Radio-Canada, with the help of a Spanish-speaking collaborator, called the phone number listed on the website and arranged a meeting with a Quick Visa Canada representative in a Montreal office.
Hayde Linares said she could help the Spanish-speaking man get access to medicare and welfare, and that a colleague would help him come up with a story.
After the meeting, Linares confirmed to CBC/Radio-Canada that she works for Quick Visa Canada. But she said her job is only to refer refugees to a colleague in Egypt.
The owner of the company, Giovanni Germinario, did not return calls for comment.
Inciting someone to make a false declaration to an immigration official is an offence punishable by up to five years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
No charges have been laid to date.