3 charged after allegedly selling home they didn't own in Toronto

Toronto police say they have charged three people in a title fraud scam.  (Evan Buhler/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Toronto police say they have charged three people in a title fraud scam. (Evan Buhler/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Three people have been charged after they allegedly sold a house in Toronto that they didn't own and tried to collect the proceeds.

In a news release on Friday, Toronto police say they have charged a Markham woman, 41, and two Toronto men, both 22, in a title fraud scam investigation.

The woman has been charged with fraud over $5,000, possession of proceeds obtained by crime over $5,000, laundering proceeds of crime, personation with intent to obtain property and uttering a forged document. The men have both been charged with fraud over $5,000.

All three are due in a Toronto courtroom on Monday.

According to police, the two men and a woman pretended to be the owners of a Toronto property in January 2023 while the real owners were out of the country.

"The men and woman initiated the sale of the home by fraudulent means. The home was sold and the proceeds from the sale were collected by the men and woman," police said in the news release.

'Suspicious transaction'

Police allege the trio went to a bank in York Region to withdraw funds from the sale of the home on Thursday.

Investigators from Toronto police's financial crimes unit became aware of the "suspicious transaction" and began to investigate.

With the help of York Regional Police, they were arrested while trying to withdraw the money. The financial crimes unit then charged the three.

Police said the investigation is ongoing and that there may be more victims.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7300.

Title fraud involves stolen ownership

Recent news stories have highlighted the dangers of title fraud, when people steal ownership of a home in order to benefit from its value.

Title fraud involves a person using fake identification, or forging documents to steal the identity of a homeowner, and taking away their "title," or legal ownership of a property.

Once fraudsters have their hands on a property's title, they can remortgage it, sell it to an unsuspecting buyer, or extract value from it in some other way and make off with the proceeds.

Police still looking for suspects in another case

On Friday, police said the charges and arrest of the woman and two men are not connected to a complex mortgage fraud case reported earlier in January. Police are still looking for the suspects in that case.

According to police, Toronto homeowners left Canada for work in January of 2022 and learned, months later, that their property had been sold out from under them without their knowledge.

Police allege a man and a woman used fake identification to pose as the homeowners. They then hired a realtor who listed the house for sale. Police say the house was sold and new homeowners took possession.

Investigators are asking for public for help in identifying suspects in the case.