Vancouver real estate firm admits employees posed as buyers for media

·National Affairs Reporter
This file photo shows Vancouver skyline, pictured in 2009. Canada is monitoring an unmanned Japanese ship which was swept into the ocean during last year's tsunami, and will not allow it to wash ashore on the Canadian West Coast, according to the government. (AFP Photo/Don Emmert)

A real estate marketing company that claims Vancouver condo sales boom around Lunar New Year has apologized after two employees were caught posing as prospective home buyers.

CTV News reports that two Asian female employees at MAC Marketing Solutions posed as prospective buyers for a news report about the hot downtown condo market.

Two women claimed to be sisters, named Chris and Amanda Lee, and told news organizations they were looking to buy a hip downtown condo, adding that, "usually Chinese people like to buy during this time."

The two were used as examples of a growing trend, with MAC Marketing Solutions suggesting Vancouver's real estate market gets a bump from Asian buyers around the Lunar New Year.

The condo building being hawked in the news piece happened to be represented by MAC.

If that sounds a bit like a savvy marketing company trying to create an attention-grabbing trend, you are not alone.

[ Related: Real estate marketer admits to deceiving Vancouver reporters ]

An anonymous blogger at Whispers from the Village on the Edge of the Rainforest smelled something foul and pieced together a connection between one of the supposed buyers and MAC.

The company later admitted to CTV News that both women claiming to be buyers were actually employees. And not even sisters.

MAC president Cam McNeill told CTV News:

I don’t have a full explanation of how things went down, I deeply regret for the fact that it didn’t make it more clear to you that the two women in the story were MAC employees.

MacNeill did say that the theme of the story was accurate and the women probably did fit the profile of potential buyers.

[ Related: Ruling allows Vancouver bus drivers dodge red-light camera fines ]

Yeesh. That is nearly a verbatim explanation of another case of apparent media manipulation — the time government employees stood in as participated in a citizenship ceremony for a Canada Day piece on the Sun News Network two years ago.

That debacle has turned into a mess of blaming and finger pointing between the network and government. This time, we seem to only have one group to blame: MAC Marketing Solutions. No one has yet accused the media of being a participant in the fraud.

It is a real estate story that hit all the sweet spots. It had international intrigue, it promised optimism in an otherwise down market and it featured a loving and supporting family rallying around two sisters.

Where the lies end and truth begins, we will never know for sure.

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