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Canada warns refugees, immigrants about phone extortion scams

Canada warns refugees, immigrants about phone extortion scams

Tue Apr 5, 2016 11:31 am EDT
By Ethan Lou

TORONTO (Reuters) – Telephone scammers have begun to target refugees in Canada with extortion schemes by posing as government employees and threatening them with arrest or deportation unless they immediately wire money, Canadian authorities said.

With complaints to Canada’s government surging, law enforcement officials last week warned that the scammers were taking aim at immigrants and refugees.

Complaints to the Canadian government about the extortion scams last year reached more than 15,000, 10 times higher than in 2014, and at least 5,200 complaints already have been lodged this year, Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre said on Monday.

The Liberal government has taken in some 25,000 Syrian refugees since taking power in November, and Immigration Minister John McCallum last week said Canada would accept 10,000 more.

The warning by Canada’s Competition Bureau did not specify how scammers are targeting refugees and immigrants. Marie-France Faucher, a spokeswoman for the law enforcement agency, said the warning was issued mainly due to the “arrival of a number of new immigrants and refugees to Canada over the past year.”

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