The image of Laval University misused for international fraud

Fraudsters are using the reputation of Laval University to offer false scholarships to foreign students who dream of continuing their education in Quebec.

A 26-year-old logistics engineer from Cameroon responded on January 19 to an ad claiming to offer a scholarship from Laval University.

The offer appeared on WhatsApp, the most popular communications application in Africa.

“I am looking for a scholarship to do my master’s degree [maîtrise] and my doctorate,” said Corine Époupa, currently employed by an oil company in her country.

The young woman quickly received a response to her request from a person claiming to be Sophie D’Amours, rector of Laval University. In addition to using the name of the real rector, the sender also uses her image, that of the institution and the correct address.

Corine Époupa was almost the victim of fraud using the identity and image of the rector of Laval University, Sophie D’Amours, to extract money from her by offering her a false scholarship.

Screenshot provided by Corine Époupa

“I saw on the internet that the rector’s name was Sophie D’Amours. Knowing that there are Canadian organizations that award scholarships to foreign students gave me confidence in the veracity of the information,” said Epoupa.


But during the process, certain elements make her doubt.

“The design of the form to fill out and the enormous availability of Sophie D’Amours” appeal to him.


Here, the instructions received by Corine Époupa to obtain the supposed scholarship.

Provided by Corine Époupa

“An acquaintance in Canada contacted the University who informed her that there was no scholarship program available at the moment,” revealed the young woman.

The fraudster tells her that her application has been accepted, but that she must pay 108,000 CFA francs ($240) to complete the registration. The amount may seem insignificant here, but it is higher than the average monthly salary of 83,000 CFA in Cameroon.

Students here at risk

A quick search allowed the Newspaper to find half a dozen Facebook pages of the fraudulent Federal Foreign Exchange Commission Canada (CFBE) using the image of Laval University.

One of these pages has even been online for more than six years, which shows Facebook’s laxity with regard to fraud.


A dubious Facebook page of the Federal Foreign Exchange Commission Canada. The email domain name comes from Russia.


The same CFBE also paid to appear at the top of the list of links during a Google search. The link still appears as sponsored in a search, but the website is no longer active.

This presence on Facebook also opens the door to fraud against students in Canada. The newspaper also obtained a quick response from a person claiming to be from Toronto and offering scholarships for the CFBE.


The Federal Foreign Exchange Commission Canada (CFBE) pays Google to be at the top of the search page.

Screenshot Screenshot

Another Facebook page of an individual claiming to be from Quebec offers scholarships for the International Development Research Center (CRDI) with once again photos linked to Laval University.

Known phenomenon

“Laval University is well aware of this type of situation,” admits Jérôme Pelletier, of the establishment’s Communications Department.

“As a preventative measure, we have developed a section on vigilance rules on in the Future Students section and the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid website,” he continues. It is important to note that no person is authorized to act on behalf of Université Laval by requesting money to apply for admission or obtain a scholarship.”

Mr. Pelletier invites victims of attempted fraud to report the situation to the authorities in their country and to the university security service.

And as for fraudulent pages, Mr. Pelletier affirms that “constant monitoring is carried out on social networks. Every fraudulent account is reported.”

Scholarships exist

Fortunately, international students can benefit from real financial aid.

“International students are eligible for several admission and during-study scholarships,” confirms Jérôme Pelletier, citing in particular the Citizens’ and World Citizens’ Scholarships (BCCM).

Only the file analysis fee, of $97, is required throughout the admission process, he notes.


The message confirming to Corine Époupa that she qualified for a supposed scholarship at Laval University. All he had to do was pay $240 for the registration fee. However, it was a scam.

Provided by Corine Époupa

“From this experience, I remember that everything is possible in falsehood. You must always check the credibility and reliability of information before getting started,” says Corine Époupa, who fortunately did not fall into the trap.

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