Industry cooperation nipping fraud in the bud

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The concerted action of government and mortgage players is putting a dent in fraud – success that shouldn’t be forgotten in the aftermath of high-profile allegations affecting 45 brokers.

“On-site inspections, thorough research and analysis of the data and an unbiased and independent assessment of the market value of the subject property by… appraisers is an effective weapon in the arsenal to combat mortgage fraud,” says Daniel Doucet, national president of the Appraisal Institute of Canada. “All of our members must meet strict ethical obligations to protect the public and provide quality services to our clients.”

While the AIC and other appraisal companies are being acknowledged for their role in identifying potential fraud, Doucet and others are also giving credit to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) in its zero-tolerance policy and proactive investigations.

For its part, the regulator is also recognizing the importance of an appraisal conducted by a professional with a CRA (Canadian Residential Appraiser) or AACI (Accredited Appraiser Canadian Institute) designation in the detection and prevention of mortgage fraud in Ontario.

Fraud in the mortgage sector is again in the spotlight after Home Trust brought forward allegations following its suspension of 45 broker partners over income statements.

Despite the revelation, Stuart Levings, chief executive officer of Genworth MI Canada Inc., stated during the company’s recent second quarter earnings call that mortgage fraud was actually on the decline, pointing out that “the industry takes misrepresentation very seriously and as a group we’ve all taken some very strong actions over the last few years to reduce instances of misrepresentation and fraud in the industry.”

AIC-Ontario President Robin Jones says that on-site appraisals are critical in detecting mortgage fraud, as they provide the assurance that the subject property does in fact exist.

“It helps to identify any red flags that might indicate signs of fraudulent behaviour,” says Jones. “It also mitigates lending risk by validating and reporting the property and neighbourhood characteristics.”

Jones went on to say that fraud affects all of us, “and industry members must work together to combat it.”

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