The investigation, called CLEF, was launched in 2008 after suspicious transactions all made using the same scheme were identified. Based on the investigation, which is still ongoing, it is alleged that the accused obtained fraudulent mortgage loans for the purchase of residences located mainly in the Montréal, Laval and Laurentides areas. The investigation also revealed that the accused was successful in circumventing the real estate industry controls and standards and defrauded individual citizens, several financial institutions and the Government of Canada, including the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) which provides mortgage loan insurance.
In exchange for a few thousand dollars and under the pretence of boosting credit rating, the accused recruited individuals who agreed to act as nominees for the purchase of houses that were to be sold at a profit a few months later.
It is believed that the accused falsified documents to inflate the nominees’ financial identity. With these documents, including false Canada Revenue Agency income tax and benefit reports, he fraudulently obtained mortgage loans, causing prejudice to financial institutions and some nominees who, ultimately, ended up with a mortgage to pay. Many had to declare bankruptcy and are now left with damaged credit histories.
A total of 53 counts were laid against the suspect under the Criminal Code. The alleged offences occurred between March 1st, 2007 and July 12, 2008. More charges are expected.
It should be noted that mortgage fraud is a phenomenon increasingly observed by police authorities, primarily in large urban areas with strong housing markets. Criminal organizations engage in mortgage fraud mainly for profit, but also to further other criminal activities.
While nominee transactions are legal, the RCMP reiterates the importance of being extremely vigilant before disclosing personal information or allowing a third party to use your identity to obtain a mortgage loan. Nominees are financially bound to the contract they enter into. Given the magnitude and seriousness of the potential harm, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police actively investigates mortgage fraud, which constitutes a major fraud priority as part of its Financial Integrity Program.