Ask Pat: New Westminster College

Randy asks—

Have you read the article at the Globe and Mail about a fake college set up called New Westminster College? As per the article, there are no students, no courses, no employees. It seems like a total sham. Is there anything the city can do to prevent this kind of thing from occurring?

No, I hadn’t read this, but I encourage people to. It is a pretty good piece of investigative reporting that gives me hope for the continued existence of journalism.

It is pretty strange to see how far some people will go to run a scam potential non-existent business, and it is unclear exactly what the scam business model is here (although my skeptic senses are tingling). The “General” doesn’t appear to be asking anyone for money from their website, and as far as I can tell, putting up a webpage of you shaking hands with famous people isn’t against the law, even if you call yourself “Professor” to do it. Neither is handing our fake fellowships, even when dressing up in uniform and pretending to be a soldier. The world (even New Westminster) is full of “Kentucky Colonels” and “Nebraska Admirals” and the such, and having never been a soldier myself, it isn’t up to me to call them out. If he calls himself a geologist, I’ll get involved.

According to the Globe story, the “College” has a business licence in New Westminster (I have not looked into this), but without an address here other than a post office box, it would be hard to argue they are violating any business license requirements or zoning. Perhaps not surprisingly, our Business Licence Bylaw says you need a license to run a business, but not that you need to run a business in order to be able to buy a licence.

As far as trading in the good name of New Westminster, there is probably not much we can do about that either. From New Westminster Centre to the Shops at New Westminster Station, businesses can attach a place name to their business without the City being able to command intellectual property. I’m not sure we have the legal authority to determine who is “too scammy” to use our good name.

But hey, who am I to say? This may be some sort of immigration scam, or he may just be an innocent general contractor with access to the former Prime Minister trying to open a Hospital on Morocco. Could be he is just a guy with a dream. To quote the illustrious General himself: “It’s not my fault if people do not do their research.”

One comment on “Ask Pat: New Westminster College

  1. Thanks for answering Pat! I still find this story utterly bizarre but I suppose there’s nothing that can be done. I somehow don’t see that hospital in Rabat getting built, but stranger things have happened.

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