Noted Toronto businessperson accused of immigration fraud

Community News & Features Oct 11, 2019 at 5:44 pm

By Ysh Cabana
The Philippine Reporter

DSC_0005TORONTO–More than a dozen Torontonians gathered at the storefront of Chelsea’s Filipino Cuisine in Pape Village on Saturday, Oct. 5 to rally against an immigration agency they say has bilked aspiring immigrants of thousands of dollars.

The focus of the protest is Marissa Odi-Gonzales, who is also the owner of MG Consulting Services. Protesters told stories of how much money they lost about false declarations aimed to induce immigration to Canada.

When asked by The Philippine Reporter to comment on the accusations, the business owner refused to talk and pointed to a business card of their lawyer posted at the display window.

Attemps to contract the lawyer by phone remained unanswered.

Juan “Johnny” Marcelino who helped organize the demonstration, said Odi-Gonzales has been recruiting Filipinos from Saudi Arabia, Italy, Norway, and other parts of Canada but no one has arrived to actually get a job in a farm advertised online.

DSC_0006Yung mga nakuhanan ng pera, hindi na nai-process. Kasi nga wala naman talagang nagha-hire na company. At ang sabi na naman wala na yung farm, pero may cleaning services. Yun yung promise niya kaya sabi niya maghintay lang kayo,” said Marcelino.

“Ngayon, ang kinkuha lang nya tourist, nakatira sa bahay niya pero nagtatrabaho sila ng under the table. Illegal dito sa Canada yun.”

Marcelino’s story is not unique among those who attended the Saturday protest as similar stories of paying cheques – and not seeing any work done – were common.

A government employee, Albert Lorenzo was protesting on behalf of his cousin and two brothers who he said each gave more than $3,000 after being promised help for employment.

“Today is the first action we did. We are raising awareness for other Filipino community members not to do business with her because they’re just wasting their money,” Lorenzo said.

DSC_0003“We want our money back. That’s why we are planning to file a case against her,” added Lorenzo.

No charges have been laid against Odi-Gonzales and none of the allegations have been proven in court.

Addressing the crowd, Maria Sol Pajadura, Chairperson of migrants advocate group Migrante Canada, said this is not a lone case of fraudulent scheme and that the Philippine government should act on behalf of the rights of overseas Filipino workers.

I-report din natin sa POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Agency) ang kanilang ginagawa, at kunan ng commitment ang government kung ano ang maitutulong nila sa ating mga kapwa Pilipinong nabibiktima.”