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The real cost of title fraud


It may be difficult for a homeowner to believe that someone could threaten their right to own their property. But title fraud is on the rise in Canada, and its impact puts more at risk for the people it targets than just their finances.

What’s it like to experience title fraud?

“Legally, the system believes you actually no longer own your home.” That’s how the owners of a property that was sold out from under them described how it felt to deal with the impact of title fraud (they’ve chosen to remain anonymous for their privacy).

The owners asked their property management company to check on the home after noticing their mortgage had been discharged without their knowledge. When the property manager knocked on the door, the person who answered claimed to have purchased the home. To the owners’ shock, that turned out to be true.

To have their title restored, the target of title fraud has to prove that fraud occurred. That’s an expensive and stressful process that can feel impossible to navigate. “It feels like it’ll never be done,” the owners told CBC.

“I felt so helpless, and I still can’t believe this could have happened to me,” said Moffy Yu, whose condo was listed without her knowledge, and sold for $970,000. Fortunately for her, she had purchased title insurance on her property, so she had help restoring her title, and avoided a significant loss.

The innocent buyer likely also had title insurance, but if they didn’t, their losses could be significant. Without title insurance to protect them, the buyer would be in for a legal battle to keep the home they purchased. They’d be at risk of possibly losing the money for their down payment, with no equity to show for it

Despite having protection, Moffy still had to endure the stress and pain of nearly losing her property. “I was freaking out and I couldn’t believe what was going on […],” said Moffy. “The whole thing was outrageous, unbelievable, and it took me a while to digest.”

But what Moffy found most disturbing was learning she wasn’t alone. “I thought what happened to me was extremely rare, but a few others sent private messages to me saying they shared the same pain,” Moffy said. “What I have been through wasn’t an isolated case.”

Unfortunately, a growing number of Canadians have had to go through the experience of recovering from title fraud. Shock and disbelief are common reactions.

“I can’t even form words to describe that moment at that time because it’s just so unbelievably out there,” said Melissa Walsh, whose great-uncle’s house was nearly stolen by fraudsters in early 2023. “Hearing that this has happened to potentially over 30 other families is hard to wrap your head around.”


With title fraud on the rise, fraud prevention is essential

The biggest challenge facing fraud prevention experts is that the fake IDs fraudsters use to impersonate homeowners are becoming more and more sophisticated. Fortunately, so is experts’ ability to spot the frauds.

Fraud prevention is evolving, thanks to new technology that lets real estate professionals validate seller and borrower ID documents quickly and securely, even on remote transactions.

“It is so important for professionals to have access to reliable digital ID verification that also respects and protects consumers’ privacy,” said Daniela DeTommaso, President of FCT.

“We need to rely on sophisticated fraud detection tools because fraudsters are always innovating. So to protect all the parties on real estate transactions, we’re innovating as well.”

Learn more about how using the right ID verification solution can protect you from the lasting impact of title fraud, while keeping your private information private.


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.


®Registered Trademark of First American Financial Corporation.

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