Victims of real estate fraud
Information on what to do, if you believe that you have been a victim of real estate fraud in Ontario.
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Who to contact
If you think you have been a victim of real estate fraud, act quickly and follow these steps:
- report what happened to your local police department
- get advice from your lawyer or adviser about your concern
- contact the Land Registry Office where the affected property is registered
You may also want to:
- speak with someone at your bank
- contact Canada’s two national credit-reporting agencies to request a “fraud alert” be put on your credit report and ask for a copy for your review
Types of real estate fraud
Mortgage fraud usually affects financial institutions that lend money for mortgages against property.
The most common form of mortgage fraud involves fraudsters acquiring property and then artificially increasing the property’s value through a series of sales and re-sales between the fraudster and someone in cooperation with them.
A mortgage is then secured on the property based on the price that has been artificially inflated.
Title fraud usually affects individual homeowners.
This involves fraudsters using stolen identities or forged documents to transfer a registered owner’s title to himself/herself or to someone else without the registered owner’s knowledge.
The fraudster then gets a mortgage on this property and once the funds are advanced on the mortgage, he/she disappears. This is sometimes referred to as ‘mortgage fraud’.
Ontario’s land registration system is secure, accurate, efficient and constantly improving. The system is built on 200 years of legal and regulatory best practices, using the best technology currently available.
However, in any system, it is impossible to completely avoid fraud.
Ontario homeowners can take an active role in protecting their property by protecting themselves from identity thieves.
Fraudsters have been known to impersonate the owner of a property by obtaining false identification and then transferring property that does not belong to them.
Compensation for financial loss
In Ontario, you may also be able to access the Land Titles Assurance Fund, which compensates people for certain financial losses due to some types of real-estate fraud.