♪ [theme music playing] [David] We’re back on the case with new details in a scam that hits home. Two detectives come to my door. They said, “Well, you’ve been scammed for your house.” [David] Victims saddled with mortgages they never wanted. How much is that mortgage for? It’s at least $500,000.
-How much is the interest rate? -25per cent. [David] And bills that could cost them everything. This was our foreclosure notice. [David] They’re feeling roped in and ripped off. How is that being paid for? It’s not being paid for, that’s the problem. [David] Police step in, but is it enough?
The Ontario Government needs to step in. [David] Our push for answers is making a difference. What was the first indication that you’d been scammed? There was a Marketplace show. And that sounds a lot like what just happened to me. [David] This is your Marketplace.
In his early 20s, Anas Ayyoub is living the high life. [trap music playing] Bragging on social media about driving a luxurious Lamborghini, he describes his lavish lifestyle as a rags to riches story. But many Canadians accuse Ayyoub of enriching himself by defrauding them.
And it’s right here on this street where police seized that prized Lamborghini. Investigators tow his car and execute a search warrant. Victims allege Ayyoub is part of a scheme that misled them into mortgages or renovations they cannot afford. -You can press the up. -All right.
People like Sherri Clarke, who didn’t realize until it was too late. What was the first indication that you’d been scammed? There was a Marketplace TV show. It was about people going into older people’s homes and offering all these free renovations and having them sign a bunch of papers
And then turning around and scamming them out of their homes. And you thought, “That sounds a lot like–” And that sounds a lot like what just happened to me. And that’s when I called the police. Let’s take a look at the bathroom. Sherri lives with multiple sclerosis.
She’s on a very limited income. So renovations to make her home accessible and safe have been paid for before by charity. A call to offer more work for free seemed normal. They would have told me that I was eligible for free home renovations.
There was two people that did the paint. They also put in the pot lights… which all of this was free. -Or so they said. -So they said. [David] But the work wasn’t free. The renos ended up costing Sherri more than $192,000. So, Sherri, one thing that strikes me here
Is that this is nice and wide, and for someone who uses a wheelchair, -it makes it easier for you. -Yes. So this house really is built for you -to live your life in? -Yes. [David] Sherri says much of the stuff she was charged for never materialized,
and what was done wasn’t helpful. Tell me what the contractors did here. They ripped out my old kitchen, all the cupboards above and below, and they put in a new counter top. Mm-hmm. What is it about the counter? It doesn’t have a lip on it.
My old counter had a lip that I could grab onto and I could pull myself along. So the contractors came in… did this work and took away -some of your accessibility? -Yes. [David] Sherri’s renos were ultimately paid for with a mortgage taken out on her property.
Sherri signed, but says she was told she’d never have to pay. If her story sounds familiar, it’s because she has a similar story to victims we’ve met before. Our original investigation into this scheme began many months ago in Bowmanville, Ontario…
-Hi, how are you? -Hi, how are you? -Come on in. -[David] Thank you. …with Melissa Irons and Jeff Wagenaar. [Melissa] Oh, that was a good one. [David] They say Jeff’s 79-year-old stepdad, Karl Hoffmann, is an easy target after a brain aneurysm years ago
took away his ability to make simple decisions. [Melissa] Karl’s a very kind of simple man. He just sits at home, watches TV. He doesn’t get out very much. [David] But he’s at risk of having his home taken away. Discovering equipment had been installed
throughout Karl’s home was a red flag. So here’s a nest thermostat that was installed. Does Karl know how to use it? Absolutely not. He has to call me every time to adjust the temperatures. [David] All right. Show me what else. Well, we have a Google smart smoke detector. All right.
The money for all this came from long-term contracts and liens against his property. Meaning his house was being used as collateral. [Melissa] Karl has water softeners upon water softeners. [David] But Melissa says Karl had no idea. And what’s this?
A surge protector, I believe, that’s what they call it. -[David] A surge protector? -[Melissa] Yeah. [David] Why would he need a surge protector? [Melissa] I have no idea. All right, what’d they do in here? -So they replaced the toilet. -Mm-hmm. They only realized something’s fishy
after finding workers renovating Karl’s bathroom. I was irate. Scared for him, worried. Wondering who these strangers were and how they got into his home. He thought they were here to use the washroom, not renovate the washroom. [David] They say Karl didn’t want the reno and couldn’t afford it.
Making matters worse, it was shoddy. They came back three times to fix a leak. They weren’t able to fix the leak, so I had to step in and fix the problem myself. [David] Karl’s family believes it’s part of an elaborate scam designed to take his home
After finding Karl was signed up for a mortgage worth $130,000 with payments beyond his limited income and an interest rate set at 25 per cent. Have you ever heard of a mortgage at 25 per cent? Absolutely not, no. [David] Karl can’t pay, leading to a dramatic development.
This was our foreclosure notice that was delivered to Karl. We’ve had to get a lawyer involved to quickly put some stop on this stuff so that we can try to figure it all out so that he doesn’t lose everything. This is all he has, all he’s ever had.
[David] To understand the multilayered scheme… -Hey, Greg. -Hi, David. -How are you doing? -Good to meet you. You as well. Come on in. [David] …we’re with Karl’s lawyer, Greg Weedon. They would just sell him things that he didn’t need. It just devolved into an elaborate scam.
They enter into these loans, essentially. They’re soliciting renovations and loans at the same time. [David] Remember that surge protector? Documents show the people who created the lien for it are the same people behind the mortgage. They’re converting these liens. The same people show up and say,
“We can help you consolidate your debt, and we can help you take these monthly payments down to a single payment, and you’ll be able to get out of this debt by way of a mortgage.” [David] Something Karl’s family says he didn’t sign.
And if he did, they say he didn’t understand it. Greg says that he would have never let Karl sign a mortgage with 25 per cent interest. The rate of interest is astronomical. We have never seen an interest rate that high.
Does he have any chance of being able to pay that? No, no. Not a chance. [David] How does a mortgage like this happen? In this case, it went through a mortgage broker and lawyer, who are supposed to look after your best interests.
Why did no one stop it? That’s what we’re on a search to find out… at this house in Toronto. -Hi. Christina? -Hi, David. -How are you? Good to meet you. -Nice to meet you. [David] Another knock at the door led to a similar story. 88-year-old Danila Lim is blind.
Her son, a retired Canadian soldier with PTSD, lives here too. Now her daughter Christina and son-in-law William are fighting to save the house. So somebody came to the house and informed my brother that there was a lien against the house. My brother really didn’t understand what lien meant,
But got intimidated by this person. When we heard the story, it was a total shock. There was a lot of anger, thinking that how can people prey on two people who are– One is blind, visually impaired, senior, disabled. My brother himself is disabled as well.
[David] And like Karl, renovators showed up too. Any room that these renovators touched, they’ve destroyed it. [David] The work is shockingly unprofessional. These huge gaps that are left at the top, the tiling that is incomplete. Show me some of the other things.
Well, I mean, for one thing, the way they installed an oven, -that’s their finished product. -[David] What? That’s how they decided it should be left. [David] They just put laminate and cardboard? -[William] That’s right. -[David] To level it? To level– to level– -But ovens have– -They have feet.
I guess they didn’t know that they had feet they could level it with, I guess. [David] And the flooring is coming apart. Oh, yeah. Look at that. This is the laminate, and you can see the tile floor that’s underneath it. Yeah, so, there was a tile floor. A professionally done tile floor.
Had a couple of cracked tiles. And their solution to fixing two cracked tiles was to cover it with the cheapest laminate they could possibly find. [David] So why didn’t the family realize sooner? Well, this was happening in the midst of the COVID pandemic, and Christina is a nurse.
But you didn’t want to make your mom sick. Correct. I mean, they were safe in their home. At least that’s what I thought that they were. -They were safe from COVID. -They were safe from COVID. Not knowing that there would be these predators that would come knocking at your door.
There is now a mortgage against this home. How much is that mortgage for? At this point it’s at least $500,000. It’s huge. It’s huge, and… you know, I feel like they’ve been victimized. Um… and… you know, it made you feel like… there’s that sense of guilt to–
Of myself to say, “Well, where was I to protect them? Or where were we to protect them?” Because for the whole year, they basically suffered in silence. [David] We’re learning the alleged scam has victims across Ontario. From St. Catharines to Peterborough… Barrie, Collingwood… Mississauga and more.
Lured in after a knock at the door. To try to unravel who’s behind it, we’re knocking on those same doors. I’m David with CBC Marketplace. Many are now suing. Some acknowledge signing documents, but say if they did sign, they didn’t understand.
Did you want to have a $230,000 mortgage? -No. -How much is the interest rate? 25 per cent. Do you feel that you’ve been taken advantage of? Yes, these people, they are picking people– older people. You know, the people– Vulnerable people. -Vulnerable people? -Yes. -That’s what– -You feel targeted? Yes.
I’m probably gonna lose the rest of the house now. He said I was gonna get all this money back, wasn’t gonna cost nothing, but… What they said, I believed they’re my buddies. Do you still believe they’re your buddies? No, no. I was fed the line and… I believed it. I was scammed.
Are you worried about losing your home? Yes, I am. I really am. I have to stay alive and fight this. I’m 70 years old and I shouldn’t be going through this. [David] Bev Forrest reveals we aren’t the only ones tracking the scheme.
How did you find out that you’d fallen into this? I had two detectives come to my door. They said “Well, you’ve been scammed for your house.” -The police told you that? -Yes. Until the police came and told you– -I didn’t have a clue. -Wow. So I just started to cry.
[David] As we’ve been investigating… so too have police. [Lisa] Moving into the renovations. Poor quality. [David] Constables Lisa Cruz and Erin Fraser are with the Ontario Provincial Police. -Hi, I’m David. -Hi, David, I’m Lisa Cruz. -Lisa. -Erin Fraser. [David] Now partnering with police agencies across Ontario.
So, Erin and I work for the Serious Fraud Office. We’re a specialty unit within the OPP that investigate major fraud cases. How elaborate is this scam? It’s very elaborate. There’s multilayered and we have multiple victims across the province. These fraudsters, they are adapting it as they go, so it’s ever-changing.
And as we investigate it, um, we find different variations to it. And I think what could be happening is people might not even know they’re a victim yet. [David] As police pursue their investigation, we find the biggest consequence yet. All I know is that it’s massive elder abuse.
Has the OPP failed here? The fact that he was able to get out of the country with all these victims’ funds is just a complete failure. [David] Our search for answers continues. [David] This is your Marketplace. We’re back on the case, revisiting our investigation
into what some call a “loan-to-own scam.” Purported victims across Ontario, homeowners like Karl allegedly tricked into signing contracts and loans. He just believes everybody that comes to the door is there to do him a favour. [David] It’s a complex scheme
which escalates into a mortgage on their home with interest rates they say they cannot afford. She was devastated. She did not actually realize that all of these things were happening in front of her. [David] There are several companies providing services and knocking on doors
and multiple lenders on the mortgage documents. But all the people we met in our original investigation have at least one lender in common: Canada’s Choice Investments. Marlene Hamilton is among them. [Marlene] I miss that. [Lisa] I know. [David] She spent more than 40 years
at this house in Port Hope. This was yours and Dad’s life. Gone. [David] Lisa Amos is her daughter. [Marlene sobbing] -So that’s home. -Yeah, that’s home. That was my home. It is home that’s been taken away from you. [Lisa] From me, from my mom. I’m angry, I’m pissed off,
I’m upset, like… words can’t describe how I feel right now. [David] Unable to make the mortgage payments, Marlene lost the house last fall. All she remembers is people coming in and out of the house. -People coming in to renovate? -Yeah. And, “Sign this, sign this.”
[David] Even though Lisa says her mom can’t read. Did she know there was a mortgage on her place? No. All I know is that it’s massive elder abuse. [David] Documents show Marlene’s mortgage went through this brokerage in Brampton, Ontario. Karl and Danila’s did too.
But the head office has since severed ties with this franchise. Now the regulator is proposing fines and to revoke the license of the brokerage. But the brokerage, in an email to us, says that they’re not at fault, arguing they, too, are victims of what they call a predatory lending fraud,
And say that their sympathies now are with the clients. For most mortgage transactions, there’s a lawyer representing the borrower’s interests. In Karl’s case, the paperwork says that lawyer was Anant Jain. In our original investigation, we visited his office, but he wasn’t there.
He’s been named in multiple lawsuits, including Danila’s. In those cases, Jain denies wrongdoing, saying his clients understood the documents and that he acted diligently and in good faith. But since then, a lot’s happened. The Law Society, which regulates lawyers in Ontario,
Has suspended Anant Jain’s license while it investigates, saying, “There is serious risk of harm to the public.” Jain denies doing anything wrong and says he’s cooperating with the investigation. But what about the man at the centre? Anas Ayyoub, the sole director of Canada’s Choice Investments.
We reached out to him earlier this year. Hello, Mr. Ayyoub? It’s David Common from CBC Marketplace. [Ayyoub] It’s the wrong time to call me. I can’t speak right now. Can you– Call my lawyer. Do you have his number?
I do, but we’re trying to get to the bottom of why so many of your customers say they have mortgages they– Oh, well, he’s just gone and hung up. Through his lawyer, he denied all allegations and said his company has no connection to any door-to-door scheme.
He says the mortgages were signed voluntarily and all above board. Turns out around the time we were calling Anas Ayyoub, he was financing new renos, like the ones at Sherri Clarke’s place, but this time under a different company name: Alternative Finance Group. And lawyer Greg Weedon?
Well, he knows all about it. He’s rebranded under Alternative Finance Group. Same guy? Same guy as Canada’s Choice Capital. -Just a new name. -New name. [David] Sherri’s mortgage is not through Alternative Finance Group, but the renos they charged her for were paid with one,
using a legal tool to place a financial claim on her property called a Notice of Security Interest. And the Ontario Government needs to step in and get rid of Notice of Security Interest. Just get rid of them altogether. They’re completely useless. They’re only being used for these types of situations,
Like for these fraudulent schemes. There’s no legitimate reason that these even exist today. So just erase them off the books? Erase them off the books and it will definitely freeze, you know, any further fraud in terms of these liens on title that are being washed into mortgages. [David] Earlier this fall,
the Government of Ontario announced a process on how to reduce the tool from being misused. As for Anas Ayyoub, although police seized his Lambo and searched his home, he hasn’t been charged. In fact, Greg tells us… he isn’t even here.
As far as we know, he’s fled the country. -He’s not in Canada? -No. Has the OPP failed here? The fact that he was able to get out of the country with all these victims’ funds, at the end of the day, um, it’s just a complete failure.
[David] We asked the OPP about Anas Ayyoub, but they say they can’t talk about their ongoing criminal investigation. They add they’re continuing to provide support to victims and raising awareness to prevent further victimization. We reach out to Anas Ayyoub again for this story,
And he says he continues to be a Canadian resident and that he’s always conducted his business dealings lawfully. This is the guy who runs Alternative Finance Group. -Oh, really? -Yeah. -Okay. -He’s living the high life. [Sherri] Apparently, yeah. Off of scams like the one that happened to me.
What should happen to the people who did this to you? Oh, go to jail.
Some seniors in Ontario could lose their homes because of an elaborate scam that involves door-to-door equipment rental contracts, low-quality renovations and high-interest mortgages. CBC Marketplace meets some of the victims of the scheme and reveal the 22-year-old accused of being at the centre of the fraud.
#Housing #Scam #Seniors
00:00 – Intro
00:54 – Meeting some of the victims
06:55 – A lawyer’s perspective
08:15 – Shoddy renovations up close
13:22 – Police share an update on the investigation
14:38 – Trying to reach Canada’s Choice Investments
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HOUSING HEIST II
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FIRST BROADCAST November 24, 2023
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