Jun 19, 2012 – 2:04 PM ET | Last Updated: Jun 19, 2012 6:22 PM ET
Among those charged was Brad Jacobson, the president of an immigration consulting firm started in 2009 with financing from a loan program run by the University of Winnipeg’s Faculty of Business and Economics.
Mr. Jacobson faces 23 counts of immigration fraud for allegedly setting up fake businesses to bring foreign workers to Canada. The CBSA said it suspected more than 300 foreign nationals had fallen victim to the scheme.
After founding Canadian Immigration Solutions Manitoba Inc. with the help of a university start-up loan for young entrepreneurs, Mr. Jacobson changed the name to CISI Canadian Immigration Strategies Inc. in January 2010.
In a promotional video, he said the company had representatives in 15 countries, including Pakistan, Egypt and China. “Brad offers new immigrants opportunities to work in Canada and to sponsor family members back in their native countries,” reads a company profile.
But a month after the video was launched on-line, Mr. Jacobson was charged in November 2010 with 14 counts of immigration fraud. The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council said it revoked his membership last year.
Those earlier charges were still before the courts when CBSA officers launched a new investigation in February after receiving a complaint. Mr. Jacobson’s home was searched June 14 and he was to make a court appearance Tuesday.
An alleged associate, Kendall Schmidt, has been charged with eight counts. The two had “developed false businesses and fraudulently submitted documents to lure foreign workers to Canada,” the CBSA said.
Meanwhile, Carol Massoud appeared in court in Montreal accused of 61 charges. She had allegedly helped up to 30 families commit residency fraud so they could qualify for Canadian passports without actually living in Canada. She was also charged with acting as an immigration representative without authority.
“There are a group of criminals who prey on immigrants,” said Phil Mooney, CEO of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council, the agency to which all immigration consultants must now belong.
Since last July, it has been illegal to provide immigration services without being a council member. Mr. Mooney said the body had been working closely with the government to clean up the industry.
“Immigration fraud creates a stain on our entire immigration service,” Vic Toews, the Minister of Public Safety, said in a joint statement with Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
The charges are just the latest to stem from a nation-wide campaign against immigration fraud. In Halifax last month, the CEO of Canada 2000 Immigration and Business Services Inc., Ziad El Shurafa, and two associates were charged.
The RCMP arrested an immigration lawyer and her assistant in Windsor in March, alleging they had coached refugee claimants to give fake accounts of their pasts. And in Quebec, police arrested an immigration consultant accused of providing citizenship and immigration papers to hundreds of Middle East residents who then collected tax benefits from Ottawa.
“And I think you’re probably going to see a lot more. It’s all of these people that were operating in the shadows,” said Mr. Mooney, himself an immigration consultant. “We know that it’s a high-priority item for CBSA and the RCMP.”