For five years, Toronto Police have been investigating “Project Bridle Path” and they finally made a break.
Yesterday, four people were arrested for allegedly engaging in a series of sophisticated mortgage frauds that involved high-end homes in the affluent area, investigators say.
Collectively, the value of homes related to the scheme net $17 million and involve two large properties on Toronto's Bridle Path, along with other properties involved in similarly rich haunts.
The Bridle Path is one of Toronto’s richest areas and has been home to celebrities including the late Prince, Shark Tank multi-millionaire Robert Herjavec and hometown hero, Drake. Properties on this strip can cost anywhere from $13 to $35 million.
The financial crimes unit at Toronto Police revealed the charges yesterday before the lawyers of the accused were scheduled to appear in court at Old City Hall. The alleged offenders were arrested over the span of last month and all four have been released on bail.
Toronto Police say this alleged scheme dates back to 2013.
It “involved enticing private lenders to hand out money for mortgages for people or companies that were posing to be the owners of expensive homes, including a then-vacant 14,000-square foot Bridle Path mansion with a gated driveway. But the mortgages were never registered and false documents, including title insurance and property-insurance certificates, were used to seal the fake deals."
The accused range in age from 45 to 53. They face different charges including fraud, conspiracy, document forgery, and money laundering. Nothing that been proven in court.
The investigation began five years ago when a civil lawsuit filed on behalf of investment companies alleged a series of mortgage frauds in Toronto, thus sparking concerns that Toronto Police believed substantial enough to pursue.
Toronto remains one of Canada’s “hottest real estate markets” despite recent figures showing a decline in demand for detached-style homes.
One of the lawyers involved in the allegedly fraudulent transactions had actually fled the country for some time, which stalled the police investigation. Detective Fazeli admits that mortgage fraud cases are complex and rarely solid.
Fazeli also said that homeowners can avoid falling victim to mortgage fraud by ensuring they have “title insurance and that they guard their personal financial information.” Scammers have been known to steal a homeowner’s identity to engineer fake mortgages.
In November of last year, the OPP were investigating a similar case in Bracebridge, Ontario.