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Mortgage Fraud – Red Flags

Lawyers must always be diligent in preventing mortgage fraud. If any of the following red flags are present in a real estate transaction, think twice:

  • The mortgage advance exceeds the balance due on closing.
  • Credits which are not noted in the purchase agreement or in amendments to the purchase agreement are granted to the purchaser:
    • as an additional deposit,
    • as a gift,
    • under a promissory note,
    • for renovations and repairs,
    • as a vendor take-back mortgage, or
    • as a rebate for a real estate commission.
  • Credits are granted to the purchaser in an amendment to the purchase agreement that have not clearly been disclosed to the lender.
  • The purchase price of the property has escalated substantially over a relatively short period of time.
  • The lender is effectively advancing more than 95% of the purchase price where the mortgage is insured.
  • The purchaser provides no or minimal funds on closing such that only the mortgage advance is required to complete or substantially complete the purchase.
  • Closing funds come in the form of a cheque or bank draft drawn from a source that indicates that the source may not be the purchaser.
  • The purchase agreement (and any amendments to the agreement) indicate that the deposit is payable directly to the vendor rather than to the vendor’s real estate broker or lawyer.
  • There is third-party involvement, for example, instructions or directions given by a third party, client identification and information coming from a third party or directions to report to or pay excess mortgage proceeds to a third party.
  • The same purchasers, vendors, real estate agency or mortgage broker are present in multiple transactions.
  • The lawyer is asked to make a last-minute registration under a power of attorney.
  • The lawyer is asked to complete a transaction in a short period of time.
  • The lawyer is offered higher than usual legal fees for acting on the transaction.

Related Topics:

Real Estate Transactions

Procedure for Real Estate Transactions

Payment of Disbursements and Expenses

Commissions and Discounts

Final Reports on Title

Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Guidance for Lawyers

Risk Advisories for the Legal Profession

Risk Assessment Case Studies for the Legal Profession

(Posted: June 12, 2020)