UPEI recruiter concerned after international student targeted by scam

UPEI's director of recruitment says a local international student nearly lost $5,000 to a scam call that claimed to be from RCMP and threatened him with deportation.

'Scammers are getting sophisticated,' according to UPEI director of recruitment

Jerry Wang, head of recruitment at UPEI, says it is fortunate the student came to him. (Karen Mair/CBC)

UPEI's director of recruitment says a local international student nearly lost $5,000 to a scam call that claimed to be from RCMP and threatened him with deportation.

"Fortunately I got a call from the student who was really afraid, and had already taken the money out of his account," said Jerry Wang.

The student went to meet with Wang while he was still on the phone with the caller.

Caller wouldn't give info

"I started talking to the person. He wanted money wired to him and said this would solve the student's immigration problem," Wang said.

"He was pretending to be an RCMP officer in Charlottetown but didn't know their address. He was saying the student was in violation of immigration law but he couldn't say which regulation. After a couple of minutes I realized he was a fraudster." 

Jerry Wang says the caller refused to provide a phone number or office location. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

The man on the line gave up when Wang asked for his phone number or office location.

"The student was really freaked out. Actually he had taken a lot of money [$5,000] out of his account and was on his way — as directed by this person — to the bank to wire this money," said Wang.

Worried international students being targeted

The UPEI official explained to the student that he wasn't in trouble and that the call wasn't from an RCMP officer. 

"The scammers are getting sophisticated," said Wang. "They were playing siren sounds in the background and he was being authoritative and directing him what to do. I heard it." 

Wang feels the student was victimized because he doesn't speak English well.

"They capitalize on international students as they may not know all immigration rules so hearing the word deport is something to be afraid of." 

Wang contacted the RCMP and was told to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. He spoke with colleagues in the international relations and communications departments at UPEI, and plans are underway to provide more information to students about scams. 

Late in 2017, the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada warned about a phone and email scam that was making its way across the country.

The association urged people not to comply with any demands from callers claiming to be with the Immigration Review Board or RCMP.  

Tips to avoid scams

According to advice from the Anti-Fraud Centre, you have the right to check any caller by requesting written information, a call back number, references and time to think.

It also warns people never to provide confidential personal information, especially banking or credit card details, unless you are certain the company is legitimate.

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About the Author

Karen Mair

Karen Mair is an award-winning journalist and an 'Islander by choice.' Since 1986 she's worked as a host, producer, reporter and social media presenter. These days, you'll find Karen reporting for digital and radio.

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