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The Bar of Montreal warns against fake immigration lawyers

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The proportion of complaints related to immigration tripled between 2018 and 2022. (Archive photo)

The Canadian Press

The Canadian dream can quickly become a nightmare for newcomers who fall prey to fake lawyers specializing in immigration law, declared the President of Montreal, referring to a local tragedy.

David Ettedgui, elected president of the Bar of Montreal, says that fraudsters target one of the most vulnerable populations vulnerable people in the city, often charging exorbitant sums in cash just to provide mediocre immigration assistance at best. Others simply abandon their victims.

We see just as many deep-pocketed investors who have fallen for this scam as asylum seekers, some of whom cross borders with nothing other than their clothes and their suitcase, Me Ettedgui told comments from the victims in an interview on Friday. But the common thing between them is that they are all trying to start a new life in Canada.

The Montreal Bar launched an awareness campaign this week about the phenomenon, encouraging the public to check that their lawyers specialized in immigration are authorized to practice in Quebec. The campaign includes graphics urging observers to be wary of suspicious tactics, such as meetings in informal spaces, promises of quick results or lack of a formal contract.

The campaign is necessary, Ettedgui said, because of a significant increase in the volume of immigration-related complaints the bar has received in recent years. The organization did not provide the total number of complaints that pass through its office, but said the share of reports about fake lawyers tripled between 2018 and 2022. Such cases accounted for 13 percent. of all complaints in 2018, the bar said, but they skyrocketed to 39% four years later.

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Official reports likely only&# x27;a fraction of all cases, adds the organization.

David Ettedgui said it was unclear whether the increase was due to the growth of the immigrant population, a broader understanding of immigrant rights, or some other reason. Most complaints come from legitimate lawyers whose clients are former victims of scams, he said.

He said that in many cases, fake lawyers are people who have been disbarred or are themselves immigrants licensed to practice law in their home country, but who are not certified in the law. Quebec.

One way to check an attorney's qualifications is to search the online catalog members of the Quebec Bar, which lists their specialization, their contact details and the address of their firm or employer. The Bar of Montreal's campaign also includes a list of verified resources for finding accredited representation.

For anyone leaving their country to settle here, it is essential to have the right support, wrote Me Ettedgui in a press release at the launch of the campaign. Entrusting your immigration file to a fake lawyer can have major consequences on your process of settling in Canada.

Rose Ndjel witnessed these consequences. The director of the Montreal Immigrant Services Center Africa au Féminin recalled two people who presented themselves to the organization in tears after receiving orders from border agents to leave the country. They thought Canada was still processing their immigration applications, but later discovered they had been deceived by a fake lawyer, Ndjel said.

Cases like these are very, very, very common in our neighborhood, she lamented .

But Me Ndjel explained that victims often resist suggestions to file a formal complaint, for fear of further compromising their immigration status.

She described the Montreal Bar's campaign as encouraging and added that' she hopes that it will continue and expand.

Someone has to file a complaint for someone to take responsibility, she said of fake immigration lawyers. Because, as I have often said, if they file a complaint and then we can deal with it.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116