Woman Wins In Mortgage Fraud Case

Susan Lawrence will be keeping her home, and will not be paying off a mortgage to Maple Trust, after the Ontario Court of Appeals reversed its decision on a previous mortgage fraud case, according to an article in the Toronto Star.

In fact, the Court had previously said that a mortgage company could hold a homeowner responsible for a loan, even if it was obtained through fraud. This confusing turn of events prompted some new provincial government legislation in favour of the homeowner,  designed to protect the rightful title on a property. With the addition of this ruling by the Court of Appeal, homeowners in Ontario can now breathe a collective sigh of relief.

While both parties are innocent in this case -- neither the lender nor the homeowner have perpetrated any crime -- the legal precedent was in favour of the lender. In other words, the homeowner didn't arrange this mortgage and didn't benefit from it, but has to pay it anyway! This ruling reverses that decision, and no longer pits the homeowner against a financial company, an opponent that can well afford the considerable legal fees.

Gerry Phillips, the Ontario Government Services Minister, is quoted as saying that "the combination of the court case and our legislation" should allow homeowners to sleep well.

If you want to sleep even better, here's a few pointers.

Mortgage fraud can be perpetrated in a variety of ways, but it usually involves a couple of critical steps in a multi-layered crime: one is identity theft; another is title fraud. The first thing you can do to protect yourself is to get title insurance. This will ensure that if there is any problem with your title, including one perpetrated by fraud, you have the coverage to get it fixed without emptying your bank account. Another key thing in your strategy is to protect your identity at all costs. Do you need indentity theft insurance to do that? My answer is no. A reasonably priced paper shredder and a periodic check of your title to ensure its accuracy should do the trick. But pay attention: Susan Lawrence only discovered the fraud against her when she went to sell her home.

Monique L. Attinger

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