Toronto title thefts show the importance of proper protection

Jan 12th, 2023 | By FCT

Toronto police recently issued a release detailing the theft of an Etobicoke home while the owners were away for business. While they were gone, two people allegedly impersonated them, listed the home, and sold it to an innocent buyer.

Since then, news has broken of another attempt at the same fraud, this time in Toronto’s east end. Tenants at the house, allegedly using fake IDs to rent it, impersonated the elderly owner and listed the home, getting offers as high as $1.9 million before the owners found out and stopped the sale.

The headlines are extraordinary to read, but possibly the most shocking thing about these two incidents is that they aren’t alone.

Title fraud has been a threat in Canada’s real estate industry for years, and is a potential risk for every property. The form most real estate professionals are familiar with involves impersonating the owner of a property in order to take out some of its equity. These Toronto cases are examples of transfer fraud, a trend we’ve noticed increasing in recent years.

Title fraud doesn’t always make the news, but more Canadians are starting to take notice. Tim Hudak, CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) is urging all homebuyers to protect themselves against fraud.

“The best safeguard here is title insurance,” Hudak told the Toronto Sun. “Under title insurance your possession of the property is protected and insured. You’re eligible for compensation. Title insurance lasts for the entire time that you own your home.”

Note: how long title insurance coverage lasts varies from provider to provider. FCT’s residential title insurance policy insures the named insured “forever” and will also protect a spouse or child where a transfer takes place for nominal consideration.

How were these two alleged thieves able to steal an entire property? Title fraud has been around for a long time, but fraudsters’ ways of perpetrating it have only become more sophisticated.

How can title insurance protect against fraud?

An owner’s title insurance policy protects the homebuyer from many risks their property could carry, including fraud. In cases of a purchaser unknowingly buying a property from fraudsters, title insurance could be the only recourse. The fraudulent title is of no force and effect, so the buyer can’t resell the property and recoup their funds.

But if they purchased a title insurance policy during closing, it’s a very different story. The insurer takes on the duty to defend their client, investigating the potential fraud, retaining counsel as needed and making the buyer whole. Don’t expose yourself to fraud. Protect your home purchase with title insurance from FCT.

 

 

Insurance by FCT Insurance Company Ltd. Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited. The services company does not provide insurance products. This material is intended to provide general information only. For specific coverage and exclusions, refer to the applicable policy. Copies are available upon request. Some products/services may vary by province. Prices and products/services offered are subject to change without notice.

 

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