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Indian expat in UAE duped in Canada job scam, loses Dh44,000

Ashwani Kumar/Abu Dhabi
Filed on January 9, 2020 | Last updated on January 10, 2020 at 11.42 am
job fraud, canada visa scam, indian embassy, abu dhabi, Indian expat, migrate to canada

(Supplied photo)

He only realised that it was a scam when he went to the embassy to get his passport stamped.

An Indian expat engineer based in Abu Dhabi lost more than Rs850,000 (around Dh44,000) to scammers, who he thought were providing legitimate help for him to secure a job in Canada.

The brazen fraud was carried out using high-profile names of the High Commissioner of India in Canada, High Commissioner of Canada in India and a top immigration attorney based in Canada.

Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi is following up the matter with the concerned authorities and ministries to bust this job scam syndicate.

Ritesh Mishra, the victim, is distraught and wants culprits, who took him for a ride for months, to be nabbed.

"I have been working here for seven years. Seeking a change, I opted for Canada. I did my research for job opportunities. In June 2019, I followed a verified Facebook page of then High Commissioner of India in Canada Vikas Swarup and left a message with my contact details. After few days, Swarup responded and asked me to contact BICC immigration consultancy and High Commissioner of Canada in India Nadir Patel. I followed Patel's Facebook pages and wrote a note. Later, Patel contacted through an Indian mobile number on WhatsApp and assured help with visa application process. He gave the contact details of Davidson McIlwraith, an immigration attorney based in Canada, and asked me to follow his advice."

All was well and Mishra landed a job offer by August.

"McIlwraith arranged a phone interview with Air Canada. In September, McIlwraith sent me an offer letter. There was another letter claiming that Air Canada has authorised McIlwraith to complete all formalities for my immigration," Mishra said showing all documents, WhatsApp chats and Facebook messages.

'It was well-planned trap'

"In October, I checked the authenticity of the offer letter through the Twitter page of 'Canada in India (High Commission of Canada)' and they confirmed it's genuine," Mishra said showing the reply from the verified Twitter handle account.

"Then McIlwraith asked me to open a bank account in Canada to show I have access to funds needed to look after my family on arriving there. He asked me to transfer Rs375,000 to him to open the account. I transferred it. I received a mail from Scotia Bank stating an account has been opened and cash was deposited in it."

Between October and November, Mishra had to transfer over Rs475,000 to a bank account in India.

"Patel asked me to transfer Rs169,900 for income tax record, Rs160,881 as visa stamp fee and Rs145,000 for educational credentials assessment. I transferred full amount and received an invitation mail to stamp my visa. I went to the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi to submit my passport but was told that invite was fake and there was no application in my name. I then understood the entire plot. It was a well-planned trap and those Facebook pages were fake. I had lost more than Rs850,000."

Ministry, embassy offer help

Mishra left for New Delhi and met Swarup, now the secretary in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, and other diplomats. A police case has been registered in New Delhi as money was transferred to account there. It helped matters that he knew an Indian cabinet minister personally.

"Swarup was stunned to know someone is cheating people in his name. Investigation is underway. I can't sleep properly until culprits are caught."

Mishra has files of documentary evidence to substantiate every claim. The community department at the Indian Embassy is following the case.

"The embassy has written to our High Commission in Ottawa, Canada, by forwarding Ritesh Mishra's complaint, which, in turn has been forward by them to Consulate General of India, Toronto, as the case falls under their jurisdiction. The embassy has also forwarded the complaint to the Americas (AMS) and Gulf Division at the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, to take up the matter with the High Commission of Canada in India," the embassy said in a statement.

ashwani@khaleejtimes.com



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