Immigration scam targeting Chinese community in GTA 'too good to be true': police

A recent set of immigration scams promising to help customers secure travel documents for relatives from China to Canada in Peel Region is raising alarm among police.

Ads placed in local Chinese newspapers promise to help secure travel documents from China to Canada

Police say a "fictitious" company called Gao Sheng Investment Corporation advertised for visitor visas, work permits and immigration documents to foreign residents. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)

Police in Peel Region are sounding the alarm over what they say are a set of immigration scams promising to help customers secure documents for relatives to travel from China to Canada.

"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," Peel police said in a release Tuesday. 

The ads, which were published in several Chinese-language daily newspapers throughout the Greater Toronto Area, were directed towards the Chinese community, Const. Mark Fischer told CBC Toronto on Tuesday.  Fischer declined to name the specific newspapers where the ads appeared, saying the publications were not responsible for the alleged scams.

Police say a "fictitious" company called Gao Sheng Investment Corporation advertised for visitor visas, work permits and immigration documents to foreign residents.

According to investigators, the company does not exist but the name has been used by culprits in the past.

The first incident was recorded by Peel police in 2015, Fischer added. 

Victims defrauded up to $10K: police

According to police, the scam asks victims to provide a deposit in order to secure visas and airplane tickets. The company will only accept cash payment up front for these travel-related services.

Throughout the process, police say the suspects will never meet at a place of business. Instead, they will ask to meet in person at the victim's residence or another public place, such as a coffee shop or restaurant.

"The culprits will often provide fake identification and business documents to have the victim believe in the scam," police said in the release.

The travel document are not provided as a result.

"This often leaves the family or friend in China waiting for a ride to the airport which never comes," the release said.

In many cases, the alleged scam has swindled between $1,000 to $10,000 from patrons, Fischer explained.

No charges have been yet laid, but fraud detectives issued a warning Tuesday reminding residents to double-check information provided by business representatives. This includes ensuring the business address actually exists and the phone number is attached to a business opposed to a personal cellphone.  

"Education is key," the release said. "Requests for money should be treated with caution and an appropriate amount of due diligence should be practiced."

Gao Sheng ads reported in Toronto

Peel isn't the only region where the Gao Sheng ads have been reported, CBC News has learned.

A similar incident was reported in Toronto's east-end in April, Toronto police say.

"An ad was placed in a Chinese newspaper in regards to having family come to Canada," Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said. "The company said it could assist in one way or another. The victims paid a certain sum and didn't receive the services they were promised." 

The investigation into that alleged fraud incident is ongoing, she added.