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Affinity Credit Union among Saskatoon financial institutions targeted by realtors in alleged mortgage scam

Two Saskatoon realtors are alleged to have falsified mortgage applications. (Dan Zakreski/CBC - image credit)
Two Saskatoon realtors are alleged to have falsified mortgage applications. (Dan Zakreski/CBC - image credit)

Two Saskatoon realtors are facing a total of almost 20 charges after multiple financial institutions, including a credit union, were allegedly targeted in a mortgage fraud scheme.

Affinity Credit Union has confirmed that it was among those targeted in the alleged scam, which police say dates back two years.

On March 1, 2021, the Saskatoon Police Service received a report of "falsified banking documents that were submitted with several mortgage applications at a Saskatoon banking institution," according to a Thursday news release, which did not identify that institution.

The documents were traced back to mortgages submitted by two Saskatoon realtors, police said.

Eight applications with false documents were discovered at a single financial institution, according to police.

An investigation by the police service's economic crime section led to police executing multiple search warrants and seizing more fraudulent documents connected to mortgage applications at several other financial institutions, none of which were named by police.

"It's kind of a tangled web," said Affinity Credit Union financial crimes manager Amie Bregenser, who explained, in general terms, how the alleged fraud worked.

"What we see is people come in with fake employment letters or things like that to obtain credit with us, or with any other financial institution, and then they can't support the payments after the mortgage has been approved," she said in an interview.

"There's always a realtor involved, or a broker or a lawyer, and they exchange funds in between themselves."

Bregenser would not say how much money was involved in the alleged fraud, or how many bogus applications were submitted with Affinity, because the investigation is ongoing.

Police say a 36-year-old man was arrested after turning himself in on Jan. 9. He's charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000.

A 42-year-old man was arrested on March 15 and charged with 17 counts of fraud over $5,000.