Frauds are created using false information or omitting certain factual details. Fraud can occur with one lie or a series of misrepresentations designed to deceive. The most usual fraud results in a financial loss ie: paying for a service that is not received or providing a service and not getting paid. The following examples illustrate fraud practiced by criminals in the education industry.
Fraud used by schools
Students want to attend high quality established schools. Schools will use fraud to attract students to their school or attempt to appear more established to qualify for government programs or association membership. Schools that claim to have specific affiliations, qualifications, assets, programs, staff or history that are untrue are committing fraud.
Many ESL schools are creating Business English programs and internships to attract students to their programs. Many of these insta-biz schools have hired teachers with no Canadian business education, training or experience. Many of these schools have created internship programs promising work experiences that violate the current (2006) Canadian Government immigration rules regulations and visa restrictions. Students attending these very poor quality schools are wasting their money. Students performing illegal work internships could find themselves in jail and deported.
A favorite trick is to name a language school as a "college". The word college in Canada is not an official use name and anyone can name any building, house or barn as a college. Students should not choose a school simply because it has college in the name. College in the name does not mean anything in Canada.
Another trick is to use the same name or almost identical name of a famous school in the USA, UK, Asia, or Europe. If the famous school has not registered the name in Canada then anyone else can register the name without any affiliation with the original school at all. Students should not pick a school because it has a famous name in their country as it may have no affiliation at all and is designed to trick students.
Schools will appoint international agents or representatives to promote and market the school to potential students then not pay for the advertising or not pay the agency fees. Fraud schools will defraud agents by stating students did not register.
Some of the schools are owned by agents. When an independent agent presents the school with a potential student that student will be contacted by the head office agency and re-registered in the name of that agent thus defrauding the original hardworking agent.
Fraud used by agents
Agents have used a number of practices to deceive students, teachers, schools and immigration officials.
Agents committing fraud sell fake medical reports, fake police reports, fake bank deposits records, fake identities and travel documents. These illegal practices include access to student visas, illegal access to free medical services and illegal jobs.
There was a famous case in Toronto where fraud agents just sat in a coffee shop outside a language school. They approached Asian students and spoke in Korean or Japanese only. They asked students if they had signed up for the adjoining language school. They were also asked if the students had used an agent. If the students had signed directly they were made an offer that if they went back to the school and placed the fraudsters name as agent they would get a 10 or 15% refund from the fraudsters.
Agents have promised teachers overseas jobs that do not exist. Agents have promised facilities or accommodation or teaching resources that do not exist. Wages that are not paid, work visas that never appear and host of other problems.
One agent operated a fake teachers "blacklist". He placed a few known criminal schools then a few of the legitimate schools on the list. This agent was charging fees to the honest schools to be removed.
There were a couple of agents that were promising backpackers jobs as English conversation teachers. They told the backpackers that no visa or degree was required. They told the English school that they had a teacher with a work visa, degree and plane expenses. The school usually paid the agent up front for the plane ticket, recruiting fee and expenses. On the second or third day the school would realize the "teacher" was not suitable and try to call the agent. The agent would call his friend in immigration who would arrest the backpacker and fine or close the school for using an illegal worker. This scam would net the agent half a years regular office salary. With 5,000 small language schools - there were plenty of uninformed new victims. That is also why these agents they use a different name or company name every six months.
Fraud used by students
The most prevalent fraud is to use the student visa as an entry into Canada to work. These fraud students take away jobs from Canadian immigrant newcomers and jobs for Canadian students. If one really looked at the reasons for Canadian student, youth and newcomer unemployment in Canada - significant culprits are the employers who use illegal workers.
Students have hired imposters to take tests for them, paid exam proctors to complete exams, bought essays from "experts" to submit as their own and bribed school officials to change their marks in the official records.
The victims of this student fraud are all the honest hardworking students that were denied admission into restricted programs because their marks were not "as good as" the fraud students who were admitted.
Fraud used by teachers
The most used frauds are fake degrees, diplomas or fabricated resumes. Because the demand is high for qualified ESL teachers overseas and these schools have few or no resources to check credentials many fakes go undetected. There have been estimates that 30% of the teachers in Korea used fake degrees to get jobs, and over 60 % of the teachers in China have absolutely no qualifications or fake certificates.
The most common "Teacher Fraud" is traveling to overseas countries on a visitor visa and then teaching illegally.
There are more than a few cases of fraudsters posing as teachers to obtain free travel tickets to Asia and Europe. The fraudsters insist on round trip tickets being paid in advance using a fake name. Some fraudsters go to the location but never show up at the school or sell the ticket for cash.
Fraud used by Homestay Providers
Homestay can be a wonderful experience for international students when the host family is honest. Fraud by homestay providers occurs when the family cannot speak English or there is no food, heat, water, toilets or electricity in the house. Some fraud homestay providers jam 5 or 6 students into an illegal basement apartment and some work at their 3 jobs spending no time at home with the students. The dangerous homestay providers are the sex predators.
Fraud used by degree mills
A degree mill is any organization that issues fake credentials. There are fraud schools that offer degrees for life experience and claim this is the equivalent of an academic degree from an accredited university. Sorry but many believe this is fraud.
The usual price for a fake degree or tesl certificate is $100 in Asia. Many of the schools are attempting to eliminate the frauds by asking for university telephone contacts or the university transcript marks sent directly to the school. The more aggressive fraud degree mills are now selling "the package" degree, tesl, transcript and hotline university contact # for the fake university for $600. The frauds are faster than the police.
There are many ESL teachers who have taken a 10 or maybe 20 hour program in a hotel room somewhere or completed some internet reading program and suddenly claim to be a certified TESOL, TESL or TEFL teacher. Many of these "certified teachers" have never been in a classroom. Sorry but many believe that this is fraud.
For more information go to "Consumer Alert". ESL in Canada has conducted several tours of ESL schools across Canada. Our fieldwork to collect information for the webpage directory has uncovered frauds, misrepresentations and some bad situations.
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