Top real estate frauds of 2014 —The best of the worst

Mar 17th, 2015 | By FCT

As is our custom during March — Fraud Prevention Month — we bring you the previous year’s top fraud stories. And once again there was no shortage of scams or victims to some of the largest financial crimes reported in Canada. However, what is notable about this list is that most of the fraud artists were women. Here is my equal-opportunity list of the best of the worst for 2014:

 

 

1.    Centrium Condominium Fraud in Toronto — Canada’s largest condo fraud

An estimated $15 million in deposit money slated for down payments on a new condo development went missing from a lawyer’s office in Toronto. Lawyer Meerai Cho faces 75 charges in connection with the theft and her license has been suspended by the Law Society of Upper Canada. The only silver lining is that Tarion, which administers the provincial home warranty, will likely provide some coverage for those defrauded.

2.    An amazing opportunity to invest in South American and South African wineries!

Or so the 200 people who invested money with Rashid Samji thought. The British Columbia-based financial planner was actually operating a $110 million Ponzi scheme, selling a 30% return on the investments of the “Mark Anthony Group” in international wineries. She faces 32 charges and up to $33 million in fines under the BC Securities Act.

3.    Breaking Bad in Alberta

In October, Allan Dawson MacMullin, ringleader of a $6 million mortgage fraud was described as an “economic predator” and a “heartless racketeer” then handed a 10-year prison term. He was also ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution to two financial institutions and various individual straw buyers after being convicted of 38 counts of fraud for incidents of mortgage fraud that took place between 2000 and 2004.

4.    Converting mortgage proceeds to gold bars in Toronto

Apparently this can be done — who knew? Early in 2014, we learned about Omar Kalair who was offering mortgage arrangements to devout Muslims who believed that they were forbidden under Islamic law from making interest payments. He apparently converted the money into gold bars, coins and electronics and then skipped town. Which begs the question: how did he manage to leave with all the loot in tow?

5.    How far does $3.5M Canadian go in India?

Although the recent drop of the Canadian dollar has probably not helped with her long-term plans, Reta Grewal, the Mississauga lawyer who went missing in November with $3.5 million of her client’s mortgage money can answer that question.

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