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The fraudsters took out mortgages from banks using the identity of house or land owners without their knowledge.
p>The Canadian Press
More than fifteen suspects must appear in court this Wednesday at the Montreal courthouse; they are suspected of having taken part in real estate fraud, reportedly worth more than $5 million.
The 17 alleged fraudsters, seven women and ten men aged 22 to 60, will face several charges, depending on their degree of involvement in the alleged scheme: fraud, laundering proceeds of crime, concealment and conspiracy.
The Economic Crimes Section of the Montreal City Police Service (SPVM) reports that its investigation revealed that the network had targeted five opulent properties free of mortgages, in the cities of Westmount and Beaconsfield, which were rented, as were three vacant lots located in the Verdun borough, in Montreal.
The police add that using false identity documents, the fraudsters managed to pass themselves off as the owners of a targeted location and virtually appeared before a first notary in order to sign a power of attorney giving full powers of administration of the property to an agent who is part of the criminal network.
At the same time, the fraudsters opened an account in the name of the real owners in a financial institution. According to the investigation, the agent subsequently obtained financing from a private lender, then signed a mortgage deed with a different notary.
As soon as the loaned money was deposited into the fraudulently opened account, the suspects were quick to withdraw it.
The SPVM reports that among the suspects apprehended, some face prison sentences of up to 14 years.
The police point out that the consequences of these real estate frauds are major, both for the injured owners and for the private lenders.
The real owners of the houses and land concerned find themselves tied to mortgage loans of several hundred thousand dollars. As for private lenders, they lost all of the sums of money that were lent.