Company executives' names used in alleged immigration scam
A Winnipeg immigration consultant charged in a scheme to lure foreign workers to Canada allegedly used the names of high-powered corporate executives to make the deals sound legitimate.
The Canada Border Services Agency is accusing Bradley Jacobson and Kendall Schmidt of developing false businesses and using false documents to target more than 300 foreign nationals.
The fake businesses and documents were used in order to bring would-be immigrants to Canada for a fee, the federal agency said.
Jacobson faces a total of 23 charges, and Schmidt faces eight charges, that include fraud over $5,000, forgery and creating false documents. They also face charges under the Refugee Protection Act.
Yadu Pandey, a Nepalese-Canadian in Ontario, said Jacobson have ruined the lives of many people in his home country.
He said 111 people were promised jobs in the Alberta oil sands if they handed over thousands of dollars. The jobs, of course, never materialized.
Pandey said that has made the lives of already impoverished people even more difficult.
"They have a miserable life and they borrowed, most of the people they borrowed, from local money lender and in 36 per cent interest."
Pandey says most labourers in Nepal make only $8 a day and it will take a lifetime to pay back the money.
"They are not in position to pay the interest or the principal. They are in big debt and so many people sold their property."
Schmidt has been granted bail, but Jacobson was denied bail on Tuesday.
According to court documents, Jacobson is accused of using the names of executives from Cargill and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. as part of the alleged scheme.
Mike Chernichen, the manager of security with Canadian Natural Resources, confirmed to CBC News that one of the company's top officials was targeted.
"It's disturbing for him personally on two levels — one is his personal reputation, but more importantly [it's] the thought of his name being used to defraud individuals who are innocent and who are simply seeking to better themselves," Chernichen said.
Chernichen said the Calgary-based company, which is a major independent crude oil and gas producer, hears about similar scams regularly.
"I probably see two to four emails a day from individuals with questions about fraudulent scams they have encountered, and trying to determine whether they are legitimate or not," he said.
In fact, the careers section on the company's website includes a disclaimer stating that "Canadian Natural does not require job applicants to pay any sort of fee."
"Similarly the Government of Canada does not charge a monthly work visa fee," the disclaimer adds.
Jacobson also faces similar charges dating back to 2010, border agency officials say. Those charges are scheduled to be dealt with in court next week.