Fraud Alert: March 25, 2021

Land title fraud involving owners living outside of Canada

This week, the Land Title and Survey Authority discovered two attempts at title fraud in which the fraudsters impersonated registered owners who live abroad, one of which was successful. Further details are available in the LTSA notice.

The risk of fraud is high right now. With a hot real estate market and increased reliance on technology due to the pandemic, fraudsters look to take advantage of those who have lowered their guard. While the frauds detected by the LTSA affected owners and property managers responsible for renting homes, similar fraud attempts have been made against lawyers.

Remember that, with limited exceptions, if an owner client is outside of Canada, you must have a written agreement or arrangement with an agent to verify the individual’s identity. If the registered owner is a company, your agent must verify the identity of the individual instructing the lawyer on the company’s behalf. You may be able to verify the identity of the company itself by directly searching a government registry created and maintained by the government of Canada, a province or a territory of a foreign government (see Rules 3-102 to 3-104). 

Be on alert that fraudsters have tried to persuade a lawyer to let them choose the agent, who ends up being part of the scam. Don’t fall for it. You should choose the agent and have direct contact with the agent both before and after the verification process.

Even where you choose the agent, proceed with caution. Fraudsters sometimes pretend that they met with the agent and obtained the verification documents when they did not. Instead, they or someone who is part of the scheme impersonates the agent and provides phony verification documents.   

Avoid being a victim of real estate and other scams. See the use of agent FAQs, checklists, risk advisories and other resources on the Client ID & Verification resources web page. For previous Fraud Alerts, click here, and find fraud prevention resources here.

If you have further questions, contact Barbara Buchanan, QC (604.697.5816 or