Eighteen months ago, a “so-called friend” told Jason about a way to make a quick buck by signing his name to a residential mortgage. “It’s not illegal,” he was assured. Now Jason (not his real name) is being sued for $260,000 on a foreclosed house and faces personal bankruptcy.

“I didn’t know what I was doing,” the 25-year-old admitted. Jason is a “straw buyer,” the unwitting victim of an all-too-common mortgage fraud scheme in Alberta, said Gary Siegle, the Calgary-based regional manager for Invis, Canada’s largest mortgage broker.

Allegations of mortgage fraud hit the news again this week when the Royal Bank of Canada filed a $8.9-million lawsuit against former Calgary employee Ilan Levy, alleging he had masterminded a complicated real estate scheme while working as a mortgage specialist for RBC from August 2004 to March 2009. Levy is among eight people and six corporations named as defendants in the suit, including his wife, two of his brothers and a lawyer.

Read the full article by Valerie Berenyi, “Mortgage fraud burns the naive” in the Calgary Herald (July 11, 2009)

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