How to STEAL A house | Title Fraud in Canadian Real Estate

Imagine this. You work all of your life to pay off your home. You work so, so hard, and you’re putting in the hours Monday through Friday, overtime, working weekends, and stat holidays just to pay down your mortgage. And eventually, one day, well, you get to pay it off. And this is a huge, huge accomplishment.

Maybe after all these years of paying down your home, you start to look around and say, hey, maybe we can do this again. Let’s go take on another property and rent out this now mortgage-free property that you’ve worked so hard to have no mortgage on. One day you’re going through some documents, and you notice there are a few discrepancies in what’s going on.

Maybe the tenants that live in your old home haven’t been paying the rent lately, or you notice inconsistency with the utility bills or something like that. So, of course, you decide to dig a little deeper.

The deeper you dig, the more concerned you begin to become, until eventually, you land on finding some information that completely rocks your world. The home that you worked so hard to pay the mortgage off for and to get mortgage free on and rent out has been sold. And the problem is, it’s been sold by somebody that wasn’t you. If the recent news that’s been going on about all the title fraud that’s been happening across the province of Ontario has got you concerned, well, maybe you should be. Today’s post is all about letting you know what exactly has happened with title fraud, what title fraud is, and what you need to read out for to make sure that you don’t become a victim of title fraud.

The best part, too, is you’re going to feel really good after because you’re going to be armed with the tools that you need to know. So this never, ever happens to you. And we don’t want this to happen to anyone. So make sure you read this post and hang around to the end because I’ve got something really special for you. Something that we’ve been giving our clients over the past eight years that’s helped them average almost 3% more than the industry average when it comes time to sell their home.

So if you’re someone thinking of selling your home, you want to hang around till the end, get this.

What’s good, everybody? It’s Darin Germyn from the Germyn Group, where we know you’ve only got one chance to either buy or sell your next home. So we’re here to help you get it right. There’s a subscribe button that’s going to float around down here, and we want to make sure you absolutely smash that because you don’t want to miss out on any of the great information we’re releasing on a weekly basis.

In fact, we try and post about two posts each week to help you become either a better homeowner, a better home buyer, or a better home seller. So make sure you subscribe.

When Stealing Your Identity Just Isn’t Enough

Well, it’s been all over the news as of late. There have been almost 30 properties in Ontario in the very recent past that have all changed hands due to something called title fraud. There have also been recent articles about this happening in British Columbia, but it’s a little bit of a marketing trick because these are actually all ones that happened years ago, but they’re just kind of bringing them back to life, so they know they’ll get the clicks for them.

But that’s an aside. This is something that’s very real that’s happening in our country right now, and it should have everybody a little concerned. So what is title fraud? Well, essentially, it’s when someone steals somebody’s identity, and they go far enough to not only steal their identity but also kind of assume the ownership of their property and then proceed to either get a mortgage on that home and collect all the mortgage money or, in fact, sell the home and collect the proceeds of selling the home. So this is a really big deal and a huge financial issue for anybody that goes through this.

There’s a story in the news recently from someone from Toronto who owned one of the tallest buildings in Canada and certainly one of the tallest buildings in Toronto, and what happened to her as she experienced title fraud. Now, before I share that story with you, I want to know, or I want to share with you rather, that this tends to happen to people who either are not living in the property or people that don’t have a mortgage on their home. But here’s the story. Come with me. So this is what basically happened.

Moffy Yu had a downtown Toronto condo in one of the biggest high-rises that are available in Toronto. Now, the property was listed for $978,000 on May 11th of last year and sold shortly after for $970,000 just about nine days later. Yu, who is a former international student, now lives in China. But the problem is she lived in this skyscraper called Aura, and she never put her home for sale. It sold without her knowledge.

The article goes on to say that the property was listed by an impersonator who gained access to the vacant home, staged a photo shoot, listed it, and sold it all without her knowledge. In the process, the impersonator appears to have duped the buyer, two sets of property agents, lawyers involved in the sale, a major bank, and the Ontario Land Registry. Now, there is some good news for our friend you because you had something called title insurance, which I’m going to get into a little bit later in the post. But this is a perfect example of title fraud. The article goes on to say that in most instances, the groups behind this are well organized, and the people front-facing on the fraudulent I.D.s are not typically the ringleaders who distance themselves from exposure.

In most cases, the funds received are either quickly moved out of fraudulently obtained bank accounts, also in the homeowner’s name, to cryptocurrency or gold or wired overseas to make recovery efforts almost impossible. So how could this happen? This is absolutely crazy. But as you can see, based on what the article said, it’s a pretty sophisticated thing that’s happening, and there are a lot of people involved, usually knowing what exactly they’re doing and running a lot faster than the enforcement agencies or the people trying to prevent this stuff from happening again. As the article said, there are a lot of people that have to be fooled in order for this to work out.

The Real-Life Heist that even Ocean’s Eleven Couldn’t Pull Off

So obviously, the quality of what these people are doing to steal these identities and to do this mortgage fraud is quite elaborate. Speaking as a realtor who operates in the Surrey, BC, South Surrey, White Rock neighborhoods, part of our practice is to I.D. clients, and this isn’t unique to us. This is something that all real estate professionals across the country have to do. It’s actually a requirement, and honestly, this is no different than what the mortgage lenders have to do, and the lawyers have to do. We have the duty to identify the people that we’re working with and make sure they are who they say they are.

The challenge lies, however, that when these documents are fraudulently created, and they’re really done well, it makes it really difficult to detect these issues, as is being mentioned here. So the question becomes, well, what can you do if it’s so hard to protect yourself? And we know it’s starting to happen more frequently. What do you, as a homeowner, do to protect yourself against stuff like title fraud? I’m glad you asked that because here’s the answer. Number one, stealing someone’s identity is a huge piece of title fraud.

So if you do not have any home title theft Canada services that are currently reading out for your own private information, you might consider getting that. And you also want to be very careful about who you share things with. Things like your birthday, where you were born, your maiden name, your kid’s names, all that sort of stuff. So you got to be very careful about where you provide information to. The second is to get something called title insurance.

The Tiny Fee that Can Save Your Property from Being Ocean’s 14

I mentioned it earlier in the post, and title insurance is really quite a minimal fee that most people will get in and around the time when they actually acquire their property. But this is also something you can get at any time. So you want to definitely check to see that you’ve got title insurance in place if you don’t know that you do, or get it in place if you know that you don’t. Title insurance really is just going to help make sure that if this does ever happen to you, you can help recover the money that was lost. Now, title insurance doesn’t protect you as the seller. It really protects the transaction.

However, with that being said, it will insulate you from occurring losses if you were to lose your property due to title fraud. The next tip in the article that I was just reading, which I thought was excellent, was to create a Google Alert and do a Google Alert on your address or whatever addresses you own if you have tentative properties or even your personal property because that will alert you if it does come up for sale. And then you can kind of nip it in the bud before it ever becomes a problem. And the last tip to make sure that this never, ever happens to you is you could consider getting the duplicate title from the Land Title’s Office. Now, this is all B.C. Lingo, so if you’re reading from out of province, this might not necessarily apply to you, but getting the duplicate title from your Land Title’s Office, you can’t transfer the property without having that.

Now, I want to kind of caveat that because you got to be very careful if you were ever to pull that document because if you lose it, it can be incredibly problematic, expensive, and timely to get it back because it’s really hard to prove that you’re the actual owner of the property without that document. So if you do pull it, make sure it goes somewhere very safe where you know you’re the only one that can access it, and you can get it to it easily whenever you need to. So there you go. You’ve learned all about title fraud in this post. My hope is that you’re going to come away from this knowing a lot more than you did before you came into it, and you’re going to go ahead, and you’re going to investigate if you’re a homeowner, that you do have title insurance on your property to make sure that you’re protected.

And the best part is that you’re hopefully going to leave this post feeling even more protected because you’ve taken some of the preventative measures that we’ve identified in this post to help you stay safe and totally avoid the possibility of you experiencing title fraud.

Net 3% More on Your Property? Check Out Our Tool & Schedule A Chat with Me!

Now I also mentioned at the start of the post how you could access one of our tools that have helped our clients net almost 3% more for their properties when compared to the industry average over the last eight years. I do have a link for that below, so make sure you check that out. And while you’re surfing around in the description area, you’re also going to find a link to my calendar.

So if you are someone in my local marketplace of South Surrey, White Rock, Surrey, BC, and you’re thinking of either buying or selling a home, book a time directly with me in my calendar, and we’ll make sure you get any information to help set you off on the right foot in your buying or selling adventures.

Hey, look, I want to thank you for reading this post. I want to thank you for subscribing. I hope you got lots of value out of it, and we will definitely look forward to seeing you at the next one.

I’m Darin Germyn with the Germyn Group | REALTORS® in Surrey BC. You’ve only got one chance to buy or sell your next home, so let’s make damn sure we help you get it right.

Talk to you soon.

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