As news of a big Canadian visa racket spreads, more Guyanese have come forward to disclose how they were fleeced of thousands of Canadian dollars by an Immigration Consultant and his local accomplice.
Yesterday, five more persons reported that they had paid over various sums of money amounting to more than CDN$25,000 to Immigration Consultant Balwant Persaud and his associate, Alim Samad, for them to secure Canadian Student Visas.
However, after several months, they are still waiting on the visas, and calls to the local associate for a refund of their monies are unsuccessful.
They now intend to involve the police in the matter.
One of the victims, who hails from the island of Wakenaam, told this newspaper that he learnt about the offer after seeing an advertisement in the local newspapers.
He then contacted Balwant Persaud at his office in Georgetown, and was advised of the details of the agreement that included the fee of CDN$12,000.
The victim said that his mother, who resides in North America, eventually paid over CDN$6,000 to Persaud in Canada as an advance.
He also handed over his passport, and was told to await instructions on when to go for a medical examination.
Two weeks later, Persaud contacted him and invited him and several other persons to his office in Georgetown, claiming that a problem had developed.
At the office, the victim and several other persons were introduced to Alim Samad, whom Persaud claimed was his associate who will be taking over the arrangements.
They were made to sign a document relieving Persaud of all the responsibilities of obtaining the visas for them. Samad was now in charge, since Persaud was returning to Canada.
Subsequently, a document confirming acceptance to the Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning was handed over to the victim, and obviously he was convinced that the transaction was genuine.
What he did not know was that the document could have been obtained on the Internet.
The next step was to obtain the medical.
However, according to the victim, Samad insisted that he had a special doctor to look after it, although the victim had his own family doctor.
The victim was told that, should the stipulated time for obtaining the medical expire, the advanced CDN$6,000 would be forfeited.
Things got worse when the stipulated time for the medical to be presented expired, and the victim became suspicious.
“We would normally meet him (Samad) in his car outside of Demico House. From the time we met him, he told us that he does not have an office and he didn’t want anybody coming at his house,” the victim said.
Samad got bolder and demanded the rest of the money in exchange for the return of the victim’s passport.
But after a while, during which things did not materialize, the victim enquired about a refund of his money, which he claimed Samad agreed to.
But, since then, all contact with the alleged con man has been lost. Repeated calls to his cellular phone have been unsuccessful.
Another victim from Essequibo claimed that her uncle in Canada had also paid money to Balwant Persaud in Canada.
She, too, was subsequently introduced to Alim Samad for a continuation of the process.
After several weeks, she went to a city bank where she had earlier been instructed to prepare a bank draft in Canadian dollars to a fictitious agency, and found out that the money had not been uplifted.
She, too, became suspicious and tried contacting Samad for a refund of her money.
She even called Balwant Persaud in Canada, who told her that she should contact Samad, since he (Persaud) was no longer dealing with the matter.
Persaud also advised her to seek the services of an attorney.
“I told him that when he collected the money, I did not need a lawyer, so why should I need a lawyer now,” the woman told this newspaper.
She said that the last time she had contact with Alim Samad was in December last year, and he had promised to refund her money this January, but he has not done so.
Another female victim from Black Bush Polder related that she was told by Balwant Persaud that he was in a position to legally get her to Canada, and she fell for it.
Her sister who resides in Canada paid over the advance sum of CDN$6,000 to Persaud in Canada.
She, too, was subsequently introduced to Alim Samad by Persaud, and it was then her troubles started.
She paid over a further G$1.2M to Samad in his car at a location in Mahaica, but things weren’t moving as fast as promised.
“He kept telling me that he has a contact at the Canadian High Commission in Trinidad but he was not presently in office. He said that as soon as his contact was back in office things will move ahead,” the woman said.
Since last year she, too, has been trying to contact Samad to get a refund of her money.
“Somebody has to take away this man’s immigration licence,” the victim said.
A few years ago, the Canadian Government was forced to relocate its consular offices to Trinidad, because of a visa racket involving one of its staff.
It is believed that more than 20 persons have been conned in this current scheme, but many of them are too ashamed to come forward.
This newspaper is willing to assist other victims of the alleged scam, and they are advised to contact telephone numbers 225-8458, 225-8491 or 649-9591.
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