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Marie Copeland @AxcessMortgage
Identity theft alert -- mortgage fraud is big business even if the spotlight looks a bit dimmed! In Canada it is growing and the fraudsters are getting more and more sophisticated and at times, with organized crime’s involvement.
There are various forms of fraud including that to facilitate other criminal activities, such as:
Title fraudsters bite unsuspecting victims - the homeowners.
Simply put, this involves the fraudulent transfer of property.
Identity theft alert to homeowners with paid off homes those who rent houses that are mortgage free, are vulnerable to be targeted in title fraud schemes. This is because it's easier and faster to secure lucrative large mortgages with the free and clear properties.
The scammers love expensive homes with no residential mortgages – they get a bigger chunk of money to abscond with.
How does this happen?
In title fraud, the scammer assumes the legitimate owner’s identity to fraudulently refinance home mortgage on the property, or to sell it to a “straw buyer” then abscond with the money. The “straw” intends to default while the criminal steals the money.
The victims, the real homeowners, are left with an illicitly obtained new mortgage or a home that has been sold from underneath them.
The thief steals title without the real homeowner’s knowledge by using false identity and forged documents with the help of today's automated financial and real estate systems and compromised industry professionals.
The victimized legitimate home owner is not aware of the fraud until the non-payment demands for the new mortgage start coming in. If the property was sold to an unsuspecting buyer, both parties believe they have clear title to the property, when in fact, neither do.
Title theft victims in Canada have paid huge legal fees and have gone through years of frustration to restore title to their properties.
This is thanks to the determination of a Toronto woman, featured by CBC, who was victimized and fought back.
Take a look!
Today, Canadians can at least take solace knowing that a remedy is now possible, albeit after a long struggle. Homeowners can now regain Title to their homes and get fraudulent mortgages discharged, if they can prove they have been swindled.
Mortgage Fraud Decision by Supreme Court of Canada October 22, 2009 protects those homeowner’s who are victims of mortgage fraud, but it does not give respite from the lengthy, complicated and exasperating legal process you have to endure once you’ve become a victim.
And, the battle is far from over and this identity theft alert is important. Fraudsters are getting more organized and more sophisticated. Here is more:
Illegal Property Flipping involving criminally inclined property owners, bankers and lenders, mortgage brokers, realtors or lawyers, all colluding for financial gain and can involve:
Air Loans involving a property which does not exist.
Foreclosure Fraud is a scam targeting vulnerable individuals who are at risk of defaulting on their mortgages.
Mortgage fraud by generally law abiding buyers who intend to live in the property but falsify information in order to qualify for a larger mortgage on a property they cannot afford. Eventually they default and become targets of fraudsters who exploit them with a variety of schemes.
Socially, it causes mental stress and betrayal of trust for the victims. The cost of the victims' damaged quality of life is hard to measure – but, it includes legal costs and years of hardship to try and recover lost or stolen identity and repair damaged credit resulting from the fraud.
If there are multiple events within one neighborhood this can inflate the local property values, increase property taxes and eventually, cause abandoned properties.
Innocent individuals who unknowingly buy properties that were former grow-ups or drug labs can be exposed to toxic air conditions, mold and costly to resolve structural problems.
Fraud damages the professional integrity of the financing, legal and real estate industry professionals and often involve corruption or collusion with other professionals working in both public and private sectors.
The economic loss to the victims, which include innocent home owners, lending institutions and mortgage and title insurers is hard to measure. But, in Canada, dollar losses related to mortgage fraud are estimated to be in the hundreds of millions annually.
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Mortgage fraud is hard to prove. Affected home owners spend years of frustration, legal hurdles costing thousands of dollars before their cases are resolved and their losses are remedied.
So please, take this identity theft alert to heart.
Get credit identity theft tips to stop mortgage fraud.
Be an informed consumer. Learn mortgage broker Canada industry standards for best identity theft protection broker responsibility.
Read about my own castle home title fraud story in a small Polish village.
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