Indian police say they have cracked a ring of criminals who conspired to operate one of the biggest fake visa scams in years involving Canada.
The alleged crooks lurked on the leafy streets outside Canada's diplomatic mission in New Delhi, as well as in the office of a bogus travel and tourism company in Punjab, a state in northwestern India.
The fake visa service charged Indians as much as $21,000 to obtain bogus visas, police said, adding they believe the ring operated through a company called Kaavi Tour and Travels in Chandigarh, Punjab's capital city.
Documents and files seized by police indicate the ring, allegedly headed by a man named Anil Kumar - who has at least three aliases - may have cheated victims out of more than $650,000. That would make it one of the biggest visa fraud operations police here have exposed in years.
Canadian High Commission staff say privately that immigration consultants such as Kumar continue to be a vexing problem. Immigration agents are not regulated and the business has become huge, particularly in Chandigarh, where Canada is the only foreign country with a visa-granting office.
Canadian diplomatic missions around the world are subject to fraud so there is nothing new here. Besides, this is India. We should expect it.
What is of particular interest in this case is Canada's diplomatic mission in Chandigarh, Punjab, India. As stated in the article it is the only foreign mission operating in the state and, I should add, at a cost to taxpayers of $25 million a year. It was opened by the Liberal party of Canada to reward Indo-Canadian voters (meaning Sikhs) for their loyalty and continued support. This was done while ignoring warnings that the city is rife with fraud and opening a mission would expose Canada to it more so. Looks like the critics were right.
This isn't the first reported case of fraud from Punjab. Read here, here, and here for more.
Canada should close its mission in Chandigarh. It is a waste of money. It only functions to serve the needs of Canada's Sikh community and the need for the Liberal Party of Canada to import more supporters. It doesn't serve Canada's interests. In this post we learn that the refusal rate for temporary visas at the Chandigarh mission is 50%. That's what the government officially admits despite protests that the refusal rate is 90%. Martin Collacott writes in this National Post article that "our consulate in the Indian state of Punjab has had to reject up to 80% of applications".
High levels of fraud on the part of people attempting to come to Canada are by no means limited to people from Somalia and other countries in the region. Fraudulent application rates of more than 50% are common in some parts of China, while our consulate in the Indian state of Punjab has had to reject up to 80% of applications, in many cases for similar reasons (compared to a rejection rate of only 19% at our visa office in Delhi).
If the rejection rate is so high then why do we need a diplomatic mission there at all? It appears we don't need so many immigrants from the Punjab to warrant a mission there. If anything it is only facilitating the importation of relatives into Canada, and immigrants who enter Canada as a family class immigrant do not need any job skills or language skills. Canada does not need these people.
The Sikh community is a particularly pandered to community by Canada's political parties. According to this Wikipedia entry, citing StatsCan, Sikhs compose 50% of the Indo-Canadian community even though they are only 2% of India's population (there are more Christians in India than Sikhs). They are the Indo-Canadian community! They are politically active and can deliver decisive block votes in electoral ridings where you either vote with them or you don't vote at all. That's why I have little hope that the mission will be closed. Canada's immigration system has more to do with politics than serving the real needs of the nation.