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In Canada, Complex Fraud Schemes Are Targeting Homeowners

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CANADA: Early this year, Toronto police announced they needed the public’s assistance in apprehending two people involved in a complex fraud scheme.

According to police, the individuals used forged identities to pose as city homeowners. They then sold the house and handed the keys to the unwitting new owners.

Meanwhile, the true house owners had been out of the country on business since January 2022.

After noticing their mortgage payments had vanished from their bank accounts, the out-of-town couple discovered their home had been sold without their knowledge.

The incident piqued the interest of many Canadians, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area and Vancouver, where real estate is considered a national obsession due to its high cost – the average home costs more than C$1m ($749,000; £620,000) – and scarcity of housing.

Similar stories from other Toronto property owners have since emerged, and investigators say these previously uncommon cases of property title fraud appear to be on the rise.

Housing Prices Have Increased In Canada

These types of cases are “definitely unique to this point in time,” according to Trevor Koot, CEO of the British Columbia Real Estate Association and a nearly 20-year industry veteran.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said, referring to the level of sophistication used to carry out these crimes.

What exactly is title fraud? How much has it increased in Canada?
Mortgage and title fraud are two common schemes involving home or property ownership.

According to Brian King of King Advisory International Group, a Toronto-based firm investigating white-collar crime, mortgage fraud is more common.

It is committed when a fraudster uses forged identification documents to obtain a second mortgage on a home they do not own, usually after the first mortgage has been paid off in full or nearly so.

Title fraud, on the other hand, involves tenants posing as the owner of a vacant home in Canada and selling it to serious buyers. This results in the property’s total title transfer.

If the home has title insurance, the real owner and buyer can usually get most of their money back. The insurance covers legal fees incurred during the process and aids in re-establishing ownership.

Mr. King stated that he had seen increased mortgage and title fraud frequency since 2020.

He said his firm had seen a “rash” of title fraud in recent years. In almost all cases, the homeowners lived elsewhere when fraudsters took over their property, in places such as the United States and China and Canada.

Title Fraud Is Rampant In Vancouver And Toronto

One of his clients, Mr. King said, was a couple who moved for work to the UK from Toronto canada in 2018. Their Canadian home was then sold from beneath them in 2022.

It was sold for C$1.7 million and had been completely renovated when they discovered it had been stolen last June. As of February, the couple was still canada working on getting their home’s title restored.

Between the 1960s and 2019, Chicago Title Insurance Company’s Canada branch saw only two cases of fraud – mortgage and title – according to John Rider, vice president.

They are currently dealing with dozens of cases, including at least five cases of title fraud, all in the Greater Toronto Area, which includes the city and surrounding municipalities.

Similar cases of title fraud have emerged in the province of British Columbia, which is home to Vancouver, where the average home costs C$1.1 million, albeit less frequently.

The BC Land Title and Survey Authority (LTSA) reported two attempts at title fraud since 2020, only one successful. The public corporation added that it is only aware of one previous case in 2019 and two in 2008 and 2009.

It maintains that these fraud cases are extremely rare, even though the LTSA processes up to one million land title applications annually.

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The Same Things Are Happening All Over The World

A similar case made headlines in the UK in 2021 when a man in Luton returned home to discover that the house and its contents had been sold without his knowledge.

On the other hand, property fraud cases in the UK appear to be on the rise. The UK Land Registry data provided to the BBC show an average of 41 reported mortgage and title fraud cases over the last four years. Cases peaked at 50 in 2016-2017.

Why are there more reports of title fraud?
Experts are baffled as to why there has been such an increase in reported cases, particularly in Toronto.

Mr. King believes that virtual real estate transactions during the pandemic may have made it more difficult to detect fake identification documents. He also mentioned that the pandemic in canada had forced some people to stay away from their homes for longer due to travel restrictions.

Others have noted the increasing sophistication of the perpetrators, some of whom have been linked to organized crime and appear to understand the Canadian real estate system well.

According to Mr. Rider, the fraudulent IDs used in these transactions frequently appear authentic, and perpetrators will hire skilled actors to pose as homeowners and carry out the scheme.

“IDs are so easily faked now that they can’t be relied on to close a C$3 million transaction,” Mr. Rider said.

There is also the financial aspect of these crimes. Real estate in Toronto has appreciated significantly over the last few decades, with the average home costing C$198,150 in 1996. It was C$1.18m last year.

“It makes sense that there is a lot of emphases on where real estate is really valuable,” said Ron Usher, general counsel for the Society of Notaries Public in British Columbia canada.

There is no escaping the fact that we live in a time when everything changes.

“These are not easy crimes to commit and are frequently caught and stopped.”

He and others have called for a national investigation to determine the underlying causes and whether more can be done to protect Canadian homeowners.

SOURCE – (BBC)

 

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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China And Russia Reaffirm Their Close Ties As Moscow Presses Its Offensive In Ukraine

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AP News - VOR News Image

BEIJING — On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated their “no-limits” friendship, which has expanded as both countries face mounting tensions with the West, and blasted US military deployments in Asia and the Pacific.

At their summit in Beijing, Putin hailed Xi for China’s recommendations to settle the conflict in Ukraine, which Ukraine and its Western allies have rejected as mostly adopting the Kremlin’s line.

Putin’s two-day state visit to one of his biggest allies and commercial partners comes as Russian forces launch an operation in northeastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, marking the most serious border incursion since the full-scale invasion began on February 24, 2022.

China claims to be impartial in the crisis, but it has supported the Kremlin’s accusations that the West led Russia into attacking Ukraine, and it continues to supply vital components required by Moscow for weapons manufacture.

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AP – VOR News Image

China And Russia Reaffirm Their Close Ties As Moscow Presses Its Offensive In Ukraine

China, which has not condemned the invasion, suggested a broad-based peace plan in 2023, calling for a cease-fire and direct talks between Moscow and Kyiv. Both Ukraine and the West rejected the idea because it did not call on Russia to vacate Ukraine’s occupied territories.

China also lent a verbal nod to Russia’s narrative about Nazism in Ukraine, with a joint statement issued Thursday saying Moscow and Beijing should protect the post-World War II order and “severely condemn the glorification of or even attempts to revive Nazism and militarism.”

Putin has claimed the “denazification” of Ukraine as a primary purpose of the military action, falsely referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government as neo-Nazis.

The mostly symbolic and ceremonial visit emphasized cooperation between two countries facing challenges in their relations with the United States and Europe.

“Both sides want to show that despite what is happening globally, despite the pressure that both sides are facing from the U.S., both sides are not about to turn their backs on each other anytime soon,” said Hoo Tiang Boon, a Chinese foreign policy researcher at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

While Putin and Xi stated they wanted to stop the war, they made no new ideas in their public remarks.

“China hopes for the early return of Europe to peace and stability and will continue to play a constructive role toward this,” Xi said in prepared remarks to the media in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. His statements echoed China’s overarching peace initiative.

Earlier in the day, Putin was greeted in Tiananmen Square with military fanfare and cannon fire.

On the eve of his visit, Putin stated that China’s proposal may “lay the groundwork for a political and diplomatic process that would take Russia’s security concerns into account and contribute to achieving long-term and sustainable peace.”

Zelenskyy has stated that any negotiations must entail the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the departure of Russian soldiers, the release of all captives, a tribunal for those responsible for the assault, and security assurances for Ukraine.

china

AP – VOR news Image

China And Russia Reaffirm Their Close Ties As Moscow Presses Its Offensive In Ukraine

Putin said he would brief Xi on the situation in Ukraine, adding, “We appreciate the initiative of our Chinese colleagues and friends to regulate the situation.”

Following Russia’s latest attack in Ukraine last week, the war has reached a crucial point as Ukraine’s depleted military awaits new supplies of anti-aircraft missiles and artillery rounds from the United States, which have been delayed for months.

China and Russia’s joint statement also harshly slammed US foreign policy, citing US-formed alliances as having a “Cold War mentality.”

“Both sides expressed serious concern about the consequences caused to the strategic stability of the Asia-Pacific region by AUKUS,” according to the statement, referring to the acronym for Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

China and Russia have accused the United States of installing land-based intermediate-range missile systems in the Asia-Pacific region under the guise of joint drills with allies. They claimed that the United States’ operations in Asia were “changing the balance of power” and “endangering the security of all countries in the region.”

The united declaration underscored China’s support for Russia.

“There’s so much Chinese falling over themselves to give Russia face and respect without saying anything specific, or committing to anything,” said Susan Thornton, a former diplomat and senior fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center.

The meeting was another endorsement of China and Russia’s amicable “no limits” friendship, which they signed in 2022, just before Moscow invaded Ukraine.

Since then, Russia has been increasingly economically dependent on China since Western sanctions have limited its access to most of the global commercial system. China’s expanding commerce with Russia, which reached $240 billion last year, has helped the country buffer some of the worst effects of sanctions.

Moscow has transferred most of its energy exports to China and relied on Chinese enterprises to purchase high-tech components for Russian defense sectors to avoid Western sanctions.

china

AP – VOR News Image

China And Russia Reaffirm Their Close Ties As Moscow Presses Its Offensive In Ukraine

“I and President Putin agree we should actively look for convergence points of the interests of both countries, to develop each’s advantages, and deepen integration of interests, realizing each others’ achievements,” added Xi.

Xi congratulated Putin on the start of his fifth term in office and commemorated the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the former Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, which were formed after a civil war in 1949. In the March election, Putin eliminated all significant political opponents and faced no serious threat. He, like Xi, has not spelled out a succession strategy.

“In a famous song of that time, 75 years ago — it is still performed today — there is a phrase that has become a catchphrase: ‘Russians and Chinese are brothers forever,'” Putin stated.

During the war, Russia and China expanded their military ties. In recent years, they have conducted several cooperative war simulations, including naval drills and long-range bomber patrols over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. Russian and Chinese ground forces have also moved to the other country’s territory to conduct joint training.

China continues to be a major market for Russian military hardware, while the country’s defense industry is rapidly developing, including the production of aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines.

Putin has already stated that Russia has shared highly sensitive military technologies with China, considerably improving its defense strength.

SOURCE -(AP)

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Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico Recovering Attempt on His Life

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Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico Recovering
Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico is no longer in critical condition: Image CTN

Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico is no longer in critical condition after being wounded in an assassination attempt while leaving a government meeting on Wednesday, a government minister said.

The gunman shot Fico, 59, five times, leaving the prime minister in critical condition and requiring surgery hours later on Wednesday evening.

“I was very shocked… fortunately, as far as I know, the operation went well – and I guess in the end, he will survive… he’s not in a life-threatening situation right now,” Slovak Deputy Prime Minister and Environment Minister Tomas Taraba told the BBC’s News.

Taraba stated that one bullet passed through Robert Fico’s stomach and another struck a joint. News outlet According to an unidentified source, Fico has recovered from surgery and is in stable condition.

Defence Minister Robert Kalinak told a press conference hours earlier that Fico had suffered “serious polytrauma” as a result of many gunshot wounds. Slovakia’s Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok previously stated that Robert Fico was in a life-threatening condition while still in the surgery room.

“This assassination (attempt) was politically motivated, and the perpetrator’s decision came soon after the presidential election,” Sutaj Estok added, referring to the April election won by a Fico ally, Peter Pellegrini.

The shooting in the central Slovak town of Handlova, which Slovak media reported was carried out by a 71-year-old man, shocked the small central European country and prompted international criticism.

Robert Fico's shooting

The moments after Slovak PM shot: Screen Capture

Prime Minister Robert Fico’s shooting condemned

Slovakia, a NATO and EU member, has a relatively short history of political violence. Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden joined Slovakia’s EU partners in voicing shock and condemnation over the shooting.

The country of 5.4 million has seen polarized political discourse in recent years, including the hard-fought presidential election last month, which helped Fico tighten his grip on power.

Fico has made rapid policy changes since taking office as Prime Minister in October of last year. Opposition critics describe it as a power grab.

His government has reduced its support for Ukraine while engaging in discussions with Russia, attempted to lower corruption punishments and dissolved a special prosecutor’s office, and is overhauling the RTVS public broadcaster amid appeals for media freedom protections.

Fico has long been skeptical of Slovakia’s major media, refusing to talk with certain outlets. Members of his party have recently criticized media and opposition actions. Following the attack, Robert Fico was brought to the hospital in Handlova, where he had been chairing a government meeting.

He was subsequently flown by helicopter to the provincial capital Banska Bystrica for emergency treatment, according to the report, adding that his condition was too bad to be sent to Bratislava.

Shooter a Former Slovakia Security Guard

A witness told Reuters they heard bullets as Fico exited a building to shake hands with a mob of people who had gathered to welcome him. Officers then wrestled a man to the ground.

According to Slovak media, the gunman was a former shopping mall security guard, author of three poetry books, and member of the Slovak Society of Writers. According to Aktuality.sk, his son stated that his father was the lawful bearer of a weapons licence.

“I have absolutely no idea what my father intended, what he planned, or what happened,” the son stated.

According to TA3, the attack hit the Marxist prime minister in the midsection. Fico, Slovakia’s dominant force for two decades, has faced criticism for embracing a more pro-Russian posture in the Ukraine conflict.

In a telegraph to Slovakia’s President Zuzana Caputova, Putin described the shooting as a “monstrous” crime, saying, “I know Robert Fico as a courageous and strong-minded man.” I sincerely believe that these qualities would help him endure this terrible scenario.”

Biden offered US assistance to Slovakia, stating in a statement: “We condemn this horrific act of violence.”

Progressive Slovakia, Slovakia’s largest opposition party, called off a planned rally and urged caution to avoid increasing tensions. Following the attack, parliament suspended debate indefinitely.

Fico’s career has spanned the pro-European mainstream and nationalistic viewpoints opposed to EU and US policies. He has also demonstrated a readiness to modify course based on public sentiment or changing political realities.

Fico, an admirer of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has become increasingly critical of Western support for Ukraine’s struggle against invading Russian forces.

Fico was forced to quit as prime minister in 2018 following huge protests sparked by the contract killing of Jan Kuciak, a journalist who was exposing high-level corruption. These protests exacerbated long-standing social tensions in Slovakia.

Source: CTN News

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YouTube Blocks Hong Kong Protest Anthem After Court Injunction Bans Song In The City

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YouTube Slowdown: The Culprit Might be Adblock Plus

HONG KONG — YouTube has disabled access to videos of a protest song in Hong Kong only days after a court approved an injunction prohibiting the song in the city.

In 2019, “Glory to Hong Kong” was an anti-government protest anthem. YouTube stated that it would comply with a removal order by blocking access to over 32 YouTube videos of the song that were designated “prohibited publications” under the injunction.

Attempts to access the YouTube videos from Hong Kong on Wednesday proved unsuccessful. A warning stated, “This content is not available on this country domain due to a court order.”

youtube

AP – VOR News image

YouTube Blocks Hong Kong Protest Anthem After Court Injunction Bans Song In The City

The court approved the government’s application to ban the song, recognizing that it could be “weaponized” and used to foment secession.

“We are disappointed by the court’s decision, but we are complying with its removal order by blocking access to the listed videos for viewers in Hong Kong,” YouTube, controlled by Alphabet Inc., said in an emailed statement.

“We’ll continue to consider our options for an appeal, to promote access to information,” the business said, adding that it shared human rights organizations’ concerns about the ban’s stifling effect on free expression online.

According to YouTube, links to the 32 YouTube videos will also not appear in Google Search for Hong Kong consumers.

George Chen, co-chair of digital practice at Asia Group, a Washington-based business and policy firm, believes it is worth monitoring how forcefully Hong Kong authorities order internet platforms to delete music.

Chen, the former head of public policy for Greater China at Meta, stated that if the government started giving platforms hundreds of links to remove daily, investor trust in Hong Kong would surely suffer

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One – VOR News Image

YouTube Blocks Hong Kong Protest Anthem After Court Injunction Bans Song In The City

“That will hurt Hong Kong’s reputation as a leading financial center because we know how important a free flow of data and information means to a financial center,” he stated. “So the government should be very careful and be aware of some unintended consequences that may impact its economic recovery and investors’ confidence.”

Internet and social media services, such as YouTube, often have protocols to address government removal demands.

Demonstrators frequently sang “Glory to Hong Kong” during large anti-government rallies in 2019. The song was then incorrectly played as the city’s anthem during international athletic events, rather than China’s “March of the Volunteers,” causing confusion among city officials.

According to local media, authorities previously arrested several individuals who sang the song in public for other infractions, such as playing a musical instrument in public without a permit.

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Pc Mag – VOR News Image

YouTube Blocks Hong Kong Protest Anthem After Court Injunction Bans Song In The City

Critics argue that barring the song’s broadcast or distribution further restricts free expression in the former British colony since Beijing initiated a crackdown following the 2019 demonstrations. They have also warned that the prohibition will disrupt the operations of major digital companies and harm the city’s appeal as a commercial hub.

SOURCE – (AP)

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