Fraud In English Language Education – Keep Your Money Safe From Criminals


Students want to attend high quality established schools. Schools will use fraud to attract students to their school or attempt to appear more established to qualify for government programs or association membership. Schools that claim to have specific affiliations, qualifications, assets, programs, staff or history that are untrue are committing fraud. Schools have also used fraudulent statistics to show jobs or salary upon graduation.

A favorite trick is to name a language school as a “college”. The word college in Canada is not an official use name and anyone can name any building, house or barn as a college. Students should not choose a school simply because it has college in the name. College in the name does not mean anything in Canada.

Another trick is to use the same name or almost identical name of a famous school in the USA, UK, Asia, or Europe. If the famous school has not registered the name in Canada then anyone else can register the name without any affiliation with the original school at all. Students should not pick a school because it has a famous name in their country as it may have no affiliation at all and is designed to trick students.

Schools will appoint international agents or representatives to promote and market the school to potential students then not pay for the advertising or not pay the agency fees. Fraud schools will defraud agents by stating students did not register.

Some of the schools are owned by agents. When an independent agent presents the school with a potential student that student will be contacted by the head office agency and re-registered in the name of that agent thus defrauding the original hardworking agent.


Students looking for foreign schools and teachers looking for overseas employment use agents to simplify travel and registration arrangements that are usually made in a foreign language.

Agents have used a number of practices to deceive students, teachers, schools and immigration officials.

Agents committing fraud sell fake medical reports, fake police reports, fake bank deposits records, fake identities and travel documents. These illegal practices include access to student visas, illegal access to free medical services and illegal jobs.

There was a famous case in Toronto where fraud agents just sat in a coffee shop outside a language school. They approached Asian students and spoke in Korean or Japanese only. They asked students if they had signed up for the ajoining language school. They were also asked if the students had used an agent. If the students had signed directly they were made an offer that if they went back to the school and placed the fraudsters name as agent they would get a 10 or 15% refund from the fraudsters.

Agents have promised teachers overseas jobs that do not exist. Agents have promised facilities or accommodation or teaching resources that do not exist. Wages that are not paid, work visas that never appear and host of other problems.

One agent operated a fake teachers “blacklist”. He placed a few known criminal schools then a few of the legitimate schools on the list. This agent was charging fees to the honest schools to be removed.

There were a couple of agents that were promising backpackers jobs as English conversation teachers. They told the backpackers that no visa or degree was required. They told the English school that they had a teacher with a work visa, degree and plane expenses. The school usually paid the agent upfront for the plane ticket, recruiting fee and expenses. On the second or third day the school would realize the “teacher” was not suitable and try to call the agent. The agent would call his friend in immigration who would arrest the backpacker and fine or close the school for using an illegal worker. This scam would net the agent half a years regular office salary. With 5,000 small language schools – there were plenty of uninformed new victims. That is also why these agents they use a different name or company name every six months.


The most prevalent fraud is to use the student visa as an entry into Canada to work. These fraud students take away jobs from Canadian immigrant newcomers and jobs for Canadian students. If one really looked at the reasons for Canadian student, youth and newcomer unemployment in Canada – significant culprits are the employers who use illegal workers.

Students have hired imposters to take tests for them, paid exam proctors to complete exams, bought essays from “experts” to submit as their own and bribed school officials to change their marks in the official records. The victims of this student fraud are all the honest hardworking students that were denied admission into restricted programs because their marks were not as good as the fraud students who were admitted.


The most used frauds are fake degrees, diplomas or fabricated resumes. Because the demand is high for qualified ESL teachers overseas and these schools have few or no resources to check credentials many fakes go undetected. There have been estimates that 30% of the teachers in Korea used fake degrees to get jobs, and over 60 % of the teachers in China have absolutely no qualifications or fake certificates.

The most common “Teacher Fraud” is traveling to overseas countries on a visitor visa and then teaching illegally.

FRAUD used by Homestay Providers

Homestay can be a wonderful experience for international students when the host family is honest, provides all the contracted services and quality time with the students.

Fraud by homestay providers occurs when the family cannot speak English or there is no food, heat, water, toilets or electricity in the house. Some fraud homestay providers jam 5 or 6 students into an illegal basement apartment and some homestay families work at their 3 jobs spending no time at home with the students. The dangerous homestay providers are the sex predators looking for new victims.


A degree mill is any organization that issues fake credentials. There are fraud schools that offer degrees for life experience and claim this is the equivalent of an academic degree from an accredited university. Sorry but many believe this is fraud.

The usual price for a fake degree or tesl certificate is $100 in Asia. Many of the schools are attempting to eliminate the frauds by asking for university telephone contacts or the university transcript marks sent directly to the school. The more aggressive fraud degree mills are now selling “the package” degree, tesl, transcript and hotline university contact # for the fake university for $600. The frauds are faster than the police.

There are many ESL teachers who have taken a 10 or maybe 20 hour program in a hotel room somewhere or completed some internet reading program and suddenly claim to be a certified TESOL, TESL or TEFL teacher. Many of these “certified teachers” have never been in a classroom. Sorry but many believe that this is fraud.

ESL in Canada has conducted several tours of ESL schools across Canada and the USA. Our fieldwork to collect information for the webpage directory has uncovered frauds, misrepresentations and some very bad situations.

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Calm Down! Chillax

God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay…

No one knows who wrote these lyrics but it is believed that they originated in the sixteenth century when bands travelled around London singing in taverns. The first publication was in 1833 and since then, people in different countries have adopted this carol as part of their traditional celebrations at Christmastime.

The word “dismay” is not one that we usually use in everyday conversation. It means “distress”. There are more contemporary ways of stating “Let nothing you dismay”. One day, for example, when I was in a bit of a panic at work trying to get everything done, my son said “Chillax”. At first I was puzzled as I had never heard this word before. Once I thought about it though and realized that it is a combination of the words “chill” and “relax” I laughed.

People need to chillax more often. Those who focus on the past and worry about all the things that they cannot change, set themselves up for depression. On the other hand, individuals who are concerned about the future and waste both time and effort trying to predict what hasn’t even happened yet are vulnerable for an anxiety disorder.

The best way to stay peaceful and calm is to practice living in the moment. Each day focus on doing things that will promote self-care and well-being. Take action and do things rather than staring at the wall while chaos piles up around you. Ensure that your environment is clean, organized and positive. Bring out all the special items that you have been saving for company and enjoy them! Chillax!

If you have issues and feel “stuck”, find someone who has a record of successfully resolving similar problems. Do some research so that you will gain understanding and know the options that are available for you to consider.

The first line of this carol gives us a good hint about how to handle life better. It suggests that gentlemen (and gentlewomen of course) should rest. The ability to think clearly and enjoy a good mood are improved when we get enough sleep. I was going to suggest that you turn off the television and head to bed a little earlier. But then I thought about the fact that there weren’t televisions in the sixteen hundreds. Funny to think that the tavern singers were trying to encourage those who were drinking and dismaying to go home and get some sleep!

It really doesn’t matter which century in which a human is born. There always have been and always will be temptations that can interfere with healthy living. But getting enough rest and not allowing distress to rule our lives will bring us the rewards offered in the final line of this carol: Tidings of comfort and joy!