Investors who collectively lost millions of dollars investing in Fortress Real Developments’ syndicated mortgages are fighting back. While recovering monies from Fortress Real is highly unlikely, there’s enough culpability to go around.
Margaret Chisholm, a 73-year-old retiree who’s at risk of losing her home because she was cleaned out to the tune of $345,000 in the alleged Fortress-perpetrated fraud, is suing a “mortgage agent” named Monty Altintutar, whom records show isn’t licensed under that name with the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, but who nevertheless sold syndicated mortgages on Fortress Real’s behalf.
“Any mortgage agent who was flogging Fortress projects was breaking the law because they weren’t taking care of their clients. Most of them didn’t even do research to make sure they were doing the proper thing—the loan-to-value was 306%,” said Rachelle Berube, who’s working with Chisholm’s paralegal in her claim against Altintutar.
“The mortgage brokers themselves, from what I can tell, didn’t even bother looking into the deals at all; they just cared about their commission payments and didn’t care for their clients at all, and that doesn’t comply with the rules of the Mortgage Brokers Act because there’s a fiduciary responsibility. It’s like they didn’t even do basic research on this thing.
“The commissions got larger, too. The biggest one I saw was $6,000 and change and for a $30,000 deal.”
When reached by MortgageBrokerNews.ca by phone, Altintutar refused to answer questions about why he was selling mortgages without a license before angrily hanging up the phone.
In Chisholm’s claim, she alleges that, as her financial adviser, Altintutar didn’t do proper due diligence and that he’s liable for imparting bad advice.
Altintutar is now listed as an advisor with Cabincoin, a cryptocurrency firm. His biography on the Cabincoin website says he “tutors clients in the field of financial literacy and has leveraged his vast financial knowledge to transition into the new cryptocurrency world. He is also a licensed mortgage agent specializing in private lending and real estate investing.”
“A lot of people flogging Fortress mortgages come from other projects, and they move from one investment to another,” said Berube.
Chisholm’s living situation is precarious. The mortgage on her condo is up for renewal next year and she isn’t confident that she will be able to continue living there. Her husband helped her pay off $20,000 in income taxes she owed—her Canada Pension Plan only pays $1,000 a month—and if things go awry in a year, she isn’t sure where she’ll live.
“Not only am I going to be out on the street, but my husband, who has two kids from a previous marriage, will be out on the street because he has to pay back $20,000 plus all the costs I’m supposed to be paying,” said Chisholm. “Monty used to brag to me that ‘I bought another car today.’ He lives in a million-dollar home—I know that because a real estate agent friend of mine looked it up for me. It’s probably worth over $1.4 million. If we don’t get this money back, I’ll be out on the street and I don’t have any family to take care of me.”