Canadian Real Estate Scams

Did You Know?

65% of home title claims are fraud related. Scammers and identity thieves are increasingly taking advantage of unsuspecting homeowners, and in some cases, selling homes without the rightful owners even realizing it.

Be on the lookout for these three Canadian real estate scams.

1. Loan Fraud 

Foreclosure occurs when a homeowner can no longer afford to pay their mortgage, so the lending institution takes over homeownership with the right to sell it. When homeowners are facing the prospect of having to move out, they may seek dubious loans to help them bridge the gap. Loan fraud is when a scammer pretends to extend a gracious loan. In exchange for the loan, the scammer may ask for the title of the home. With the title in hand, the thief may stop sending loan payments to the homeowner and instead resell or remortgage the property. Not being able to make mortgage payments is a desperate situation, which causes struggling homeowners to make dramatic decisions. Before agreeing to any type of loan, homeowners must ask themselves if the terms of the loan are too good to be true. In cases of fake loans, they often advertise an incredibly low-interest rate. It is best to trust your financial matters to accredited institutions.

2. Title Fraud

Title fraud is when someone steals the title of the home, usually by impersonating the homeowner. Once they have the title, the thief may attempt to sell the home or apply for a mortgage against it. In March 2021, the Times Colonist reported that a thief impersonated a British Columbian homeowner in order to transfer the home’s title to someone else’s name. Then, the thief tried to sell the home behind the rightful homeowner’s back. It was only when a neighbor alerted the real homeowner about the for-sale sign that they realized that their home could have been sold without their permission.

The best way to defend against title fraud is to keep your personal information as private as possible. Title fraud is closely related to identity theft, and fraudsters may gain access to your personal information through phishing methods. Phishing is a tactic where cybercriminals trick people into giving up personal details, including full names, birthdays, and financial information. Statistics Canada calculates that 34% of Canadians have experienced a phishing attempt since the beginning of the pandemic. This statistic emphasizes the importance of constant vigilance concerning your most sensitive personal information.

3. Mortgage Fraud 

Mortgage fraud is a term that can apply to untruthful lenders who attempt to swindle cash from unsuspecting buyers or pitch mortgage terms that fall outside of the buyer’s means. The Financial Services Commission of Ontario lists several warning signs of mortgage fraud. For example, lenders who do not have your best interests in mind may ask for cash fees and upfront payments.  Again, it is best to only trust accredited financial institutions with your mortgages and loans. Research the institution before signing any contract. If the mortgage terms are too good to be true, it probably is. There are several online mortgage calculators that can give you an idea of the type of mortgage you can afford. Before entering any talks with a lender, conduct some research beforehand so you can spot unreasonable terms.   


Also, an unscrupulous lender may try to hurry you along but also take a long time responding to your calls and emails. If you feel pressured or unsure at any point, remember that there are plenty of fish in the sea. Ask your friends or family for lender recommendations to make sure that you are not tricked into mortgage fraud, the consequences of which could follow you for years.