Ontario real estate fraud: How to protect yourself
By Agnes Ng, Real Estate Lawyer, Beard Winter LLP
Real estate fraud is a growing concern in Ontario, where scammers use a variety of tactics to steal money from unsuspecting victims. With the hot housing market and rising home prices, fraudsters see an opportunity to take advantage of buyers, sellers and renters. In this article, I will explore some of the most common types of real estate fraud in Ontario and provide tips on how to protect yourself.
Types of real estate fraud
There are many types of real estate fraud, but some of the most common in Ontario include:
- Title fraud – this occurs when a fraudster steals the identity of a homeowner and sells or refinances the property without the owner’s knowledge.
- Mortgage fraud – fraudsters may falsify information on a mortgage application to obtain a loan that they have no intention of paying back.
- Rental fraud – scammers may advertise a rental property that does not exist, take deposits from multiple victims, and disappear with the money.
- Investment fraud – fraudsters may claim to have a great investment opportunity in real estate and ask for upfront fees or investments, but the opportunity is either nonexistent or has little chance of success.
- Foreclosure fraud – this occurs when a homeowner facing foreclosure is promised help by a fraudster who takes their money and does not provide any assistance.
How to protect yourself
Here are some tips on how to protect yourself from real estate fraud:
- Do your research – always research the property and the seller before making any purchases or signing any contracts. Check the ownership records, title history and any liens or encumbrances on the property.
- Verify information – verify any information provided by the seller or real estate agent, such as their identity, contact information, and employment status.
- Do not wire money – avoid wiring money to anyone you do not know, especially if it is for a rental or investment opportunity.
- Use a trusted lawyer – always use a trusted lawyer to handle your real estate transactions. The lawyer will help identify any potential issues and ensure that all legal requirements are met.
- Be cautious of unsolicited offers – be wary of unsolicited offers, especially if they are too good to be true. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Real estate fraud is a serious issue in Ontario and it is important to take precautions to protect yourself. By being aware of the common types of fraud and following the tips outlined above, you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim. Always remember to do your research, verify information and use a trusted lawyer to handle your real estate transactions.
If you are a homeowner or real estate investor, there are ways to protect your real estate properties from fraud. To find out more, please contact Agnes Ng at email@example.com.