Fifteen former clients of an imprisoned B.C. immigration consultant have now been deported to China. And the failed appeals by two women who fought to remain in Canada provide a rare glimpse into the illegal tactics used to carry out what has been labelled as the biggest immigration scam in B.C. history.
Immigration Appeal Division transcripts obtained by CBC News detail lies and deceptions, including one immigrant pretending to attend university in B.C. while actually obtaining an education outside the country.
Another fraudulently claimed to work for a fictitious B.C.-based company while in fact living in China.
The two unrelated women have been stripped of their permanent residency status for lying about their eligibility and will be unable to return to Canada for five years — unless they receive permission from immigration officials to come back sooner.
They were clients of Xun "Sunny" Wang and his now defunct companies New Can Consultants and Wellong International Investments.
Wang is serving seven years in prison for immigration fraud.
The Canada Border Services Agency had previously reported Wang had 1,200 clients. It now says that number has "increased to over 1,600 as a result of further investigation."
In updated figures supplied to the CBC, the CBSA alleges 318 of Wang's former customers obtained permanent residency under false pretences. And more than 200 others may have lied in order to become Canadian citizens.
The CBSA says another 547 ex-clients remain under investigation, while 226 have "lost status through other processes", including voluntarily giving up their permanent residency or Canadian citizenship.
That brings the total number of people deported or facing possible deportation to more than 1,300.
So far, 44 removal orders have been issued, but some have pending appeals.
Fifteen have been forced to return to China.
Case No. 1: Fake job, fake residency
The case of Min Zhang, 53, shows one way the con operated.
In a decision handed down by the Immigration Appeal Division in Vancouver last month, adjudicator Craig Costantino deconstructed Zhang's claims.
Zhang gained permanent residency in Canada under the investor class designation in December 2007.
Her husband and her daughter immigrated with her and settled in Burnaby.
Zhang, however, left Canada just six days later and spent almost two years back in China before returning to Canada in 2009, only to leave again, allegedly to care for an ailing grandmother.
Permanent residents are required to spend at least two years out of five living in Canada. In turn, they're entitled to most Canadian social benefits and health care.
Zhang grew concerned that living in China would breach her Canadian residency obligation, so she went to Wang's office.
"She then participated in a fraud scheme," Costantino wrote in his decision.
"The consultant filled out her permanent residency card renewal forms in 2012 indicating she had been employed in Canada from January 2010 to 2012."
In his decision, Costantino described a shell game in which Zhang paid a fee to Wang, the immigration consultant, in return for what appeared to be a salary from a bogus employer.
Wang's trial last year heard he routinely created letters of employment for his clients, using the names of companies he created as part of the con.
Costantino notes the deception even extended to filing income tax returns in Canada with the assistance of the consultant, based on pay for work "she never performed throughout a period where she admitted that she was for the most part not in Canada."
All of this was designed to create the appearance his clients were meeting ongoing residency requirements in Canada, although most were spending the majority of their time in China.
False passport stamps
As part of the scam, the consultant also altered or falsified entry and exit stamps in her passport "to falsely credit [her] with over 600 days of residency" in Canada.
Costantino notes Zhang "admitted to making a serious mistake", but she appealed on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, claiming "she was now playing a critical role in raising her three young grandchildren," having moved from Burnaby to Waterloo, Ont..
But Costantino rejected her appeal, finding "the current situation in which the entire extended family is living under one roof is a recent development.
"For almost five years after she was landed as a permanent resident, [she] chose to live apart from her husband and daughter in China."
In stripping Zhang of her permanent residency status and ordering her deported, Costantino ruled "[Zhang] did not commit a single innocent mistake. Rather she participated in an elaborate fraud conspiracy along with her consultant that was ongoing for three years …. The appeal is dismissed."
Case No. 2: Fake university history
While Zhang pretended to work at a fictitious job in order to fake her presence in Canada, a younger permanent resident pretended to attend a Canadian university, when in fact, she was getting her schooling overseas.
Xiaojia Zheng, 28, also attempted to appeal her removal order on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
Immigration department documents obtained by the CBC show Zheng came to Canada at the age of 18 in 2006. Five years later she applied for a permanent residency card "with a falsified history of study which made it appear as though she resided in Canada when she did not."
Zheng claimed she first attended Langara College in Vancouver, then later the University of Calgary, from 2006 to 2010, when in fact she had been attending the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom followed by King's College of London during much of the same time period.
In short, she pretended she was studying and residing in Canada when in reality she was living in England.
Testimony 'not credible'
Zheng's new immigration advisor, Sophia Huang-Cummings, blamed the misrepresentation on "Sunny" Wang and his company Wellong International, hired by Zheng's father.
"I know she made a mistake," Huang-Cummings told Zheng's IRB hearing. "I know her father made a mistake to hire the wrong person…she actually was complete[ly] trust[ing] her father. Who will not trust the father?"
But in reviewing Zheng's appeal last month, Immigration Appeal Division adjudicator Larry Campbell found while "[Zheng] stated that even though she has taken several years of post-secondary education in English — up to the master's level — she did not read the forms that she signed."
Campbell concluded "[her] testimony was not credible."
"I find that whether directly or through willful blindness, [she] committed the misrepresentation and was not an innocent victim of her parents and the consultant."
Complicating matters, Zheng did return to Canada long enough to give birth to a child.
Zheng's daughter is now almost one year old, and since she was born here, is a Canadian citizen.
But Larry Campbell ruled there's no reason the child couldn't leave Canada with Zheng, noting Zheng's husband lives in China.
"It is generally in the best interests of the child to be with both parents" he writes in his decision. "…the child is very young and would be able to adapt to living in China with her parents…"
Huang-Cummings says Zheng left Canada for China shortly after losing her appeal. The rejection of Zheng and Zhang's appeals do not bode well for other former clients of "Sunny" Wang, who have also filed appeals of their removal orders. Their cases will be heard over the next several months.