Property fraud is possible when somebody obtains a title of your property – by stealing your identity – to change the ownership of your property from your name to theirs. The fraudster can then get a loan against your property, or even sell it or rent it. The real owners often don’t even know of the fraud…
How is it possible? Through a title transfer. The fraudster’s scheme begins when he goes around certain neighborhoods. His favorite targets: houses of good value and preferably free of mortgage. Fraud is thus easier and, above all, more lucrative.
Then he steals personal information from the victims. With this information, the scammer can get to work and complete identity theft. “Today, fraudsters are hiding behind computers. In 2014, 24,611 identity thefts were reported, but in fact, it is necessary to multiply by nine, because only one victim out of ten reports this type of crime, “says Pierre Therein, former detective lieutenant in charge of criminal investigations at the Service. Police Department of the City of Montreal and now a trainer at the Canadian Credit Bureau (BUCC).
After falsifying your identity documents, the hustler can work with a notary, and pretend to be a buyer. Once the subterfuge is in place, he sells your house and disappears with the money. In some cases, the fraudster rents your property and then sells it pretending to own it.
“Snowbirds are perfect targets. Their house is often paid and they are absent for a long time, this leaves time for the fraudsters to act. “
HOW TO AVOID TITLE FRAUD?
If you receive a phone call and are asked for your date of birth, your mother’s maiden name, your social security number, or any other personal information, do not respond, even if it is a business with which you do business regularly. “Do not trust any phone call, because there is software that can change the name and number of the company that calls,” says Sylvain Paquette.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE THE VICTIM OF TITLE FRAUD?
If you do not receive your tax notice that your payments are no longer withdrawn from your account, it is not a gift. “Call your municipality or institution for an audit,” says Sylvain Paquette.
If it turns out that you are the victim of this type of crime, notify the police and ask to speak to an investigator. “Investigations for fraud are often complex. You may be told that this case does not fall under the jurisdiction of the police. If you are told this, insist on talking to someone. Do not accept a no, “says Pierre Therein.