Buyers warned about increasing fraud cases

The loss of over $12 million in a major fraud case should be a warning to other buyers to be more vigilant and not so quick to hand over cash.

Buyers need to wake up to the threat of fraud in real estate or they could face huge losses.

That is the warning in the wake of the fraud case involving Toronto-based lawyer Meerai Cho. She represented the developer behind Centrium, the condo hotel project in North York that fell through earlier this year.

The lawyer faces 75 charges for failing to return deposits to purchasers of the mixed-use development. According to a police representative, the project seemed legitimate and not a front for a scam.

“Our thoughts are that it shows how important it is to buy pre-construction through reputable builders. Buyers should always research the project as well as other developments done by the builder,” Erica Smith of Condo Chicks told CREW. “We would never take clients to a pre-construction sales office without knowing the reputation of the builder.

“It's so important these days considering the amount of fraud and international money in the real estate market.”

It is believed that almost 140 people are affected by this case with buyers putting down deposits ranging from $40,000 to $700,000.

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