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Breaking Fraud Cases from Canadian Courts
At Canadian Fraud News, we report on decisions issued by Canadian Courts related to fraud, that are not reported in the main stream media, and that contain legal issues the Canadian public and fraud recovery experts should be aware of. The following is one such story.
On July 25, 2017, the Law Society of Upper Canada (“LSUC”) revoked the paralegal licence of Castillo Garcia (“Garcia”) after finding him guilty of professional misconduct. The LSUC held that Garcia had misappropriated over $1M from clients, passed fraudulent documents, acted outside of his scope of competence, and failed to cooperate with the LSUC investigation. Garcia has been on the run since 2014, and is currently wanted by police on a Canada wide warrant.
The LSUC acknowledged that their decision will likely have little impact on Garcia, but declared their decision is important to send a clear message to the legal profession and to the public that this form of reprehensible conduct will attract the most severe sanction available. In addition to being sacked, Garcia was ordered to pay $33,680 to the LSUC Compensation Fund, and pay the LSUC investigation costs of $15,555.
In 2010 Garcia was granted a paralegal licence by the LSUC. Garica operated as a sole practitioner focusing primarily on immigration matters. He was not a registered immigration consultant with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.
Although registered with the LSUC as operating as Victor Castillo Paralegal Professional Corporation, he operated under a website under the name of VIPA Professionals. The VIPA Professional website offered immigration services outside of the scope permitted by his paralegal licence.
Garcia also operated two other businesses – VIPA Financial, offering financial services to immigrants; and Canada Newcomer Services Incorporated – another venue to attract the business of immigrants to Canada.
Complaint of Agent A
The LSUC reported decision only referred to complainants by code names. “Agent A” was one such complainant.
Agent A operated a recruiting company based in Taiwan that provided services for foreign workers seeking employment and residence in Canada. Agent A was referred to Garcia by someone in their industry. Garcia advised Agent A that his company VIPA Professionals had received several labour market opinions (“LMOs”) that had been approved by the Government of Canada, and that VIPA was looking for workers to take positions associated with the LMOs.
A LMO, at the time, was a document that was issued by the Canadian government to employers based on current labour market trends. A LMO allowed temporary workers to obtain a sponsored work permit for Canada. This assisted Canadian companies fill positions with foreign workers. A LMO set out the conditions for work in Canada for foreign workers.
Agent A, trusting that Garcia was honest based on his law society licencing, retained Garcia to represent 180 foreign workers from Taiwan. Garcia provided Agent A with LMOs for 12 Canadian companies.
Each foreign worker was to pay Garcia $5,500 in a three stage process. Most of the foreign worker paid Garcia’s fees up front. From late 2013 to early 2014, Agent A sent Garcia, through VIPA Financial’s bank account, over $1M in paralegal fees. The $1M was placed into a bank account which was not a trust account.
By June 2014 Garcia’s bank account was closed, with a balance of zero. Agent A came to learn that the LMO documents were fake. Some foreign workers ended up being banned from Canada and other immigrations applications were simply rejected by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Later in June 2014 Agent A retained a lawyer. Garcia never issued a statement of account to Agent A, and never returned any of the money. Garcia was on the lam. In August 2014 Agent A reported the matter to police. The police and LSCU investigations confirmed Garcia’s fraudulent conduct.
Compensation Fund Payments
The LSUC received many claims for compensation against Garcia. Despite victim losses in excess of $1M, the LSUC only paid out $33,680 to the compensation fund applicants. The LSUC has now received an order that Garcia pay it for the money the LSUC paid out to his victims.
The LSUC also obtained a $15,555 cost order – but advised that this was only for the time of the Paralegal Discipline and Enforcement Department, and that significantly more time and expense was incurred by the LSUC in investigating Garcia’s frauds.
LSUC Due Diligence?
While operating as a paralegal, Garcia reported to the LSUC that he did not receive trust funds and did not operate a trust account. It was not reported by the LSUC whether it ever conducted an audit on Garcia’s practices to determine whether he was operating within the scope of licence that the LSUC granted.
Full Reasons for Sentence
Other similar complaints were received by the LSUC – the details of which are provided in the LSUC reasons at Law Society of Upper Canada v. Castillo Garcia, 2017 ONLSTH 155 –CanLII.
For further information on this case, or any other fraud recovery inquiry, contact Canadian Fraud News Inc. at Kayla@Canadianfraudnews.com.