Melissa Holman of the Temporary Foreign Workers Association of Canada faces fraud and theft charges.

Immigrant adviser faces fraud charges
New arrival from Japan says she lost life savings
By Meghan Potkins and Clara Ho, Calgary Herald June 13, 2012

Melissa Holman of the Temporary Foreign Workers Association of Canada faces fraud and theft charges.

CALGARY — When Fusako Kametani uprooted her life in Japan to come to Canada with her daughter three years ago, she never imagined she’d see her life savings evaporate in mere months.

The sense of security she had when she arrived is now gone.

“People look friendly but (they’re) not. I feel like I can’t trust anybody,” she said.

The 55-year-old said she handed over nearly all of her cash and property — worth more than $2 million — to an immigration consultant who convinced the single mother that her assets could be seized, or worse, that she could be deported.

A Calgary woman who leads a non-profit agency that assists newcomers to Canada is now facing multiple counts of fraud.

Melissa Holman, 40, president and founder of the Temporary Foreign Workers Association of Canada, has been charged with five counts of fraud over $5,000 and five counts of theft over $5,000.

Police say the victim was referred to the organization last year to seek immigration advice.

Kametani arrived in Canada on a student visa and had used her savings and inheritance to purchase two houses, one of which was being used as a rental property, say police.

Holman allegedly told the victim that by having properties in her name, she could have her assets seized and also face deportation, said Staff Sgt. Geoff Gawlinski.

“The victim was told you could not work in Canada while on a student visa. But she wasn’t working. She had these houses, one she was living in, one was an investment. You can still invest in Canada. But she was worried these assets could be seized by the government and she could be deported,” he said.

(…)

Between June 23 and July 8, 2011, police say the victim legally turned over ownership of the two homes to Holman, one in Signal Hill and the other in Springbank.

Holman is also accused of having penned more than $410,000 in bank drafts from the victim’s bank accounts.

“The victim was giving the money to the accused to hold in trust in a safe manner. If it would be in the accused’s name, then it couldn’t be seized because the accused was a citizen of Canada,” said Gawlinski.

Through civil means, both houses were turned back over to the victim and approximately $90,000 was seized by police and also returned to the victim.

Gawlinski wouldn’t elaborate on where the rest of the money went, but said police noticed “lifestyle changes” and “irregularities” in the accused woman’s bank accounts.

Det. Shawn Goertzen, who investigated the case, said the victim had been trying to seek advice on how to remain in Canada and feels “duped.”

“This woman literally turned over everything she inherited from her family,” added Henry Beaumont, the victim’s lawyer. “We don’t know whether we’re getting it back.”

(…)
After a thorough investigation, including consulting with special prosecutors, police arrested Holman last Thursday. She was released with conditions and is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 21.

No other workers with the Temporary Foreign Workers Association of Canada are being directly investigated at this time, said Gawlinski, although “there are still some avenues in this incident that we’re still investigating,” he added.

In the meantime, the organization remains in operation and the staff ardently defend their boss.

“She’s the biggest-heated person,” said one staff member who declined to give her name. “There’s two sides to this story.”

On the association’s website, Holman describes herself as a pianist of 28 years, a master’s graduate in music, a wife and mother of two, and a marketing entrepreneur with a “humanitarian heart.”

In the president’s message online, Holman said many newcomers to Canada are taken advantage of by lawyers, immigration consultants and agencies only to be set up with menial jobs when they arrive.

She said her association, a not-for-profit society, helps all immigrants or foreigners who want to come to Canada to work, study or visit and can help provide legal protection, guidance, government paperwork completion, and other assistance for a one-time fee for two years. “The beauty of this society is putting a stop on all illegal activities,” she wrote.

Reached at her Signal Hill home on Tuesday, Kametani said she feels embarrassed by what happened, but added that she plans to fight to get her money back.

“I’m not OK, but I can still survive.”

mpotkins@calgaryherald.comcho@calgaryherald.com
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

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Article posted in Asian community, Communities, Crime, Crime (type), Fraud/Forgery/Scam/Impersonation/Identity theft
  • Euonymus

    Very unprofessional photo to put on a site pompously called “The Temporary Foreign Workers Association of Canada”.
    The photo seems to have been taken in her bedroom. Do I get a glimpse of a bedsheet? She looks like she had just woken up.
    I feel sorry for the Japanese woman, but why was she so afraid if she were not hiding something?
    At the age of 52 she came to Canada on a student visa, with money to buy two properties…
    This story shows how ridiculous our immigration system is.

  • Cheryl

    Our immigration system is is being taken for granted by every immigrant, refugee and asylum seeker. I thought we had people highly educated elected to our government, I guess I am wrong!! We don’t need any more immigrants in Canada till everything is straightened out. Immigrants from years ago were honest and hard working but not now a days. They all come here to see what they can get for free and how to pocket money that is not theirs. It is ashame that when you look around Canada you don’t even know what country your in!!!! How do you expect to feed future generations when are agricultural land is disappearing to house these people. I don’t think all the soldiers that died for this country expecting their ancestors to have a better life is now being given away to newcomers!!!!

  • Sheara

    Thats an ugly generic answer. My husband and are in current sponsorship proceedings to stay. I am Canadian born and raised and we have a child that is born here as well but I risk the posibility of my husband being sent back because of individuals who think like you. We are honest and hard working and have no criminal records – I am an asset to this country as my husband is as well. If you want to say you have no idea what country you are in – that is what Canada is – a mosiac of ethniticies… If you want to go back to what it truly is then if you are not a Native Indian – you do not belong here either. I believe of the immigrants taken advantage or breaking the law should be sent back but don’t make an ignorant comment and throw us all in the same pool!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6PVRCKCPLKG4TTDIKDX6ZCMBQI steinhauershawn

    Why do Japanese people need to Immigrate. I thought people come to Canada to live a better life. Japan is a rich country and life is already good over there, so if there is still Japanese still immigrating than it is in the name of Colonialism/Imperialism.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bluepaper.frame BluePaper Frame

      You could ask the same question in relation to all those rich Chinese and Arabs who are moving into Canada. And, pardon me, you seem to be blind at what true colonialism means: Asian, South Asian, Arabic, African. After their disastrous tsunami, how many Japanese have applied to come to Canada as refugees?
      And how many Haitians have arrived? Our government has even implemented a fast track programme for Haitians living in Canada to bring their relatives and families to Canada.
      So, if you wish to discuss colonialism, look somewhere else. Japan is not invading us.