Buying, or renting a condominium or home in Alberta is typically an exciting experience, but unanticipated pitfalls exist. Sadly, real estate fraud is becoming more and more prevalent, and being aware of the tricks scammers use might prevent such incidents. Consumers must look out for red flags that might indicate title fraud, mortgage fraud and online property sale or rental scams.
Title fraud involves one person stealing the identity of the titleholder of the property and assuming ownership of it. This can be done by mailbox theft, computer hacking or dumpster diving, and the fraudster will then use the registered owner’s personal information to transfer ownership of the property to him or herself, or even to sell it to another unsuspecting person. It can also be used to register a new mortgage in the name of the identity thief, who will disappear with the money and leave the real property owner to pay the mortgage.
Online scams can take on many forms, the most popular involving advertising low-priced rentals or houses for sale online. Responders to the ads are then asked to meet at a location other than that of the property to exchange the rental deposit for the key to the property. The unsuspecting renter later arrives at the address of the property to find that it does not exist, or that others already occupy it.
Victims of real estate fraud might not know their legal options. An Alberta lawyer who has experience in dealing with real estate fraud can be a valuable asset. A lawyer can explore the possibility of existing title insurance and explain the available options. A lawyer can provide helpful guidance with reporting the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and the police department, and assist throughout ensuing legal proceedings.