Attention — immigration scam! A number of African, Caribbean and South-East Asian countries are targets.

   We have been receiving phone calls and e-mails asking about a so-called “Canadian Visa Lottery” — a fake news story apparently spreading through an online grapevine and gaining momentum on certain social media platforms. It appears that an article has been published online listing a number of countries, citizens of which would be allowed to participate in the new Canadian visa lottery, similar to the U.S. DV lottery. A certain geographical area appears to be being targeted by scammers: the list of “eligible” countries includes the Philippines, Thailand, Fiji, Guyana, Jamaica, Pakistan, Oman, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia, Cameroon, Kenya, Lesotho, Uganda and Zambia.

   Beware: the story is clearly a scam designed to bilk thousands of citizens from poor countries who desperately seek better fortunes elsewhere, trusting that when it seems to be too good to be true, it may still be true. Professionally speaking, the rules of the so-called lottery listed in the article look randomly thrown together and have absolutely no relation to any existing immigration program in Canada. But since not everybody is well-versed in the intricacies of the Canadian immigration system, below are three main points for every Jane and Joe seeking to leave for greener pastures.

   First of all, any record of action taken or sanctioned by the government of Canada should be publicly available. However, no public announcement has been made by IRCC or any other branch of the Canadian government that would indicate that such a lottery could take place. The only lottery that IRCC will be holding — today, as a matter of fact — is the selection of applicants willing to sponsor their parents to Canada, a move announced by IRCC on December 14, 2016. And while one can easily find an announcement about parental sponsorship selection by way of lottery, there is none about any other lottery. No link in the story is provided to the official source for a very apparent reason — it does not exist.

   Secondly, a clear indication of fraud is a very conspicuous error in names: instead of using the correct title, “Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada,” the story quotes “Canadian Immigration and Citizenship” as the name of the Canadian government department in charge of immigration. Our rule is when in doubt, always search the official sources, and we urge everybody to protect themselves from immigration fraud and check the official IRCC publication at

   Last but not least, we checked the registration of the website where the article was published; do not be fooled by the name — it has nothing to do with U.S. TV. No surprise here — there is absolutely no clarity regarding who is behind the website, which is filled with online ads and pop-ups. It was registered on October 25, 2016, the names of the owners are hidden and it is a proxy domain — with the true identities of the site owners/domain, etc. disguised behind a string of glossy facades rented by anyone who pays for it. See for yourself:

   It looks like immigration fraud was in the original design of this “masterpiece”; on the verge of the confusion that has erupted about who is being denied entry to the US and the ensuing border frenzy borne by the US President’s executive order signed on January 28, 2017, it has also managed to publish fake U.S. visa news alleging that citizens of African countries now have a 30-day free passage to the U.S., which is not true. We feel truly sorry for gullible folks who read it and may show up at the U.S. border with no visa…

   Our advice: avoid at all costs. Avoid anyone — whether a person or an organization — offering assistance with these two programs; the programs are fake and the only “assistance” you will get is your money being assisted out of your pocket into the pockets of the scammers. Always check the source — with the relevant authorities — Canadian or U.S.