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Scams... beware - Scammers targeting international students

Updated: Aug 17, 2023


Despite Canada constantly being ranked as one of the safest countries in the world, crime is not an exception here. One of the most common types of crimes on a day-to-day basis is scams! In a similar fashion to any other country, we have the classic random phone calls trying to get you to share personal information, email-based scams, and text messages; you name it! However, here in Vancouver, International Students need to be more careful with two specific types of scams; FB Marketplace & Craigslist and job hunting scams.

Facebook Marketplace & Craiglist: Based on what we have heard from close friends and people in the Thrivve community, we can definitely say that scams through Facebook’s Marketplace and Craiglist are the most common ones people fall for! This can happen to anyone who is making a transaction through these platforms, but the most common ones happen when international students are looking for accommodation. So be careful with that!

We actually have another article on Dos and Don’ts when it comes to renting in Vancouver in our July Issue. Go read the list of things to avoid doing in the renting process because they will help you avoid scams. Regardless, here are some other basic points for you to identify and avoid scammers:

• Avoid accommodation listings in which they show none or almost no pictures!! • Avoid listings that are posted multiple times and with poorly written descriptions.


Golden Rule: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!!! A time will come in which you’ll find a posting for a place you really like and that you would do anything to have! It will probably look like a beautiful, modern place for a really low price. If this happens... make sure to compare the price of that property with other similar properties around the area. If it’s low compared to the other ones, it’s probably a scam, so just let it go.


Job hunting scams: Now, this type of scam is a little bit more tricky to identify and even to understand... but this one specifically targets international students!! Please keep your eye open for this one.

Scammers have gotten smarter, and their tricks are getting more and more sophisticated. They have realized they can steal thousands of dollars by deceiving international students who are looking for jobs in Canada.


How does this scam work? It works by tricking students into thinking they are going to be hired by a company that is willing to sponsor a work visa for them.

How it starts. It starts with a job posting, which is usually uploaded to the most common job search platforms such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, etc. Scammers promote these posts and write in the job description that they are familiar with the sponsorship process and they are willing to sponsor a work visa. That’s the hook!

If you believe it, you might go ahead and search for the company online. However, the postings are usually strongly grounded, as scammers have built complete websites for their fake company, creat- ed social media profiles for them, and even grown them for over a year! (Sometimes, they buy inactive accounts that already have followers and then change the name just for it to look as if they have been in the market for years.)

You can imagine now how difficult it is for you to identify this as a scam since they make sure all of it looks pretty real!

What comes next? Once you decide to apply, the scammers go through the whole process of faking a real interview/hiring process... with all stages included!!! An initial first contact over the phone, which is commonly a 15 min chat, followed by a 1st interview with the HR team and even a 2nd interview with whoever is supposed to be your potential boss! So yeah, they literally groom the students for weeks to make them feel safe with the process🤬 🤯

Of course, by the end of the whole “hiring process,” you will get a job offer! You’ll probably get all excited, tell your family and friends, you know, the whole drill! Here’s the catch, once you accept the offer, the scammers will ask you to buy some equipment for yourself, as your job is completely remote and you need to comply with the company’s EQUIPMENT STANDARDS.

That means having a new MacBook, an iPhone, a new headset, and a microphone for your meetings. Heck, they sometimes even ask you to buy a goddammed chair! And, worst of all, they ask YOU to buy this stuff. They will have a couple of justifications on why they can’t send that equipment to you and that you must buy it yourself. When they ask you to buy all this stuff, they will immediately say something similar to: “don’t worry, we know it’s a lot of money, but we’ll send you a cheque, so you have the funds to pay for the equipment while we work on your immigration process. Furthermore, we are sending you the contact of a supplier of ours with whom you can buy all this equipment at a discounted price”




Finally, the scam takes place!! And this is when the scam happens:

1. The cheque they are sending you is fake! Therefore, you won’t have the money to buy all the stuff they are asking for.

• Keep in mind that, in Canada, when you deposit a cheque into your account, your balance will immediately reflect the cheque’s amount you just deposited. However, that’s just the balance of what you would have if the cheque clears with the bank! This fund-checking process will take the bank about a week.

2. The “supplier” they are referring you to... doesn’t exist! It’s them! So, if you buy the equipment they are asking you for from the supplier, you will just be paying them with your own money!!! The cheque will bounce after a week, and you will have spent your savings for nothing. 😵

This type of scam has its variations, of course. Sometimes they ask you to buy equipment. Sometimes, they ask you for money for your “work visa applications” and other alterations to the same story... So, the short version of what we are trying to say is: NEVER TRUST AN EMPLOYER WHO ASKS YOU FOR MONEY. Regardless of the situation!

This has been a growing problem. More and more of our students have reported falling for this type of scam, and, sadly, there’s no authority or institution in Canada that can help people who get scammed like this. We hope this article helps you avoid this rising issue. Be careful out there!

All the best, The Thrivve team!


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