Fix it before it Breaks Down

By Aaron Berhane May 2007 Actress Elizabeth Shepherd’s house was sold at the end of 2005 without her knowledge. A phony buyer took out a mortgag...

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By Aaron Berhane
May 2007

Actress Elizabeth Shepherd’s house was sold at the end of 2005 without her knowledge. A phony buyer took out a mortgage of $243,000 on Mrs. Shepherd’s house and left her in debt.

Torontonian Susan Lawrence also faced the same problem in 2005. When she decided to sell the house she had possessed for 30 years, she received scary news. She was told she didn’t actually own the house; she had already sold it.

These scams are very sophisticated crimes and it is not easy to identify them. Victims may not know for months after the fact. There are reasons for increasing mortgage fraud.
Mortgage fraudsters commit these crimes for the following reasons:

1. It is a lucrative field from which they can harvest money very easily.
2. The application process is depersonalized.
3. There is little scrutiny due to the fierce competition in the mortgage industry.

The Canadian Institute of Mortgage Brokers and Lenders says the average case of real estate fraud ranges from $200,000 to $400,000. Since this is quick cash, it encourages people to commit the crime. The depersonalized application process makes it possible for people to borrow large amounts of money without meeting anyone and complete many aspects of the transaction electronically. As long as the paperwork seems to be in order, it is hard for lenders to notice the criminals. Anyone who knows how the system works, can be tempted to steal. Moreover, since there is tough competition within the mortgage industry, lenders rush to close a deal without taking all the steps necessary to determine if the transaction is legitimate. The lack of scrutiny tempts those who know about it to reap profits off people’s property.

Elizabeth Shepherd and Susan Lawrence managed to recover their homes after a two-year-long struggle. However, they won’t recover the valuable time they have lost. Nor can anyone compensate them for the emotional stress they have suffered. It has sunk deep into their hearts.

Don’t let yourselves become victims. Learn from the experiences of Shepherd and Lawrence. The civil and religious institutions of our community should play their role to prevent members of our community from getting scammed.

You have to organize seminars to educate our community about loans and mortgages, buying and selling a house, identity theft and so on. You have to teach members of our community how the legal system works. You have to keep doing this continually to enlighten them. It is your duty to fix the situation before it breaks down.

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    Well, if you start, someone may follow you.