MONTREAL -- Three individuals were arrested Wednesday in connection with a scheme that exploited newcomers looking for work.

The three men were associated with personnel placement agencies, but everything indicates that they falsified documents without their victims' knowledge, according to the results of a long investigation involving the Surete du Quebec (SQ) and several ministries.

The scheme also appears to have deprived the government of revenue, as money was collected from employees, but not returned to the state coffers. The fraud is estimated to be nearly $1 million in total.

In a statement released late in the evening, the SQ specified that Montrealers Fadi Khoury, 55, and Mohammed Laihem, 51, as well as Jean-Francois Cantin, a 44-year-old man from Repentigny, were arrested on Wednesday morning.

They were released, under several conditions, pending their appearance at a later date at the Montreal courthouse "in connection with fraud, forgery, use of forged documents and conspiracy,"

The investigation by the SQ's financial crimes division began in 2015, in collaboration with Revenu Quebec, the Ministère de l'Emploi, du Travail et de la Solidarité sociale (MTESS) and the Commission des normes, de l equity, health and safety at work (CNESST).

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.