Real Estate Agents have been approached by scammers, opportunists, and unscrupulous characters from around the world with all sorts of suspect requests. Some of these requests are so unbelievable that you have to be brain dead to fall for them. Now there is concern that Real Estate Agents are at risk for money laundering schemes.
Though the concern isn’t new, on May 18, 2017, the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB, which covers North Delta, Surrey, White Rock, Langley Township, Langley City, Abbotsford and Mission) sent out a warning memo to its members. The very strongly worded memo warns of money laundering strategy that offshore investor clients may attempt.
“It has come to our attention that overseas clients may be asking realtors to allow money to be transferred to their personal accounts so that the Realtors can arrange a bank draft to give to the sellers/developers for their purchase,”
“It’s important everyone understands that this violates federal income tax laws, Fintrac [anti-money laundering] laws and the Real Estate Services Act. It is extremely important to ensure that any exchange of funds is legitimate, legal and ethical before members agree to participate.”
Using this tactic, a transaction could be used to launder money from illegal sources. However, according to FVREB president Gopal Sahota, there have been no reported cases of such an illegal transaction being completed or attempted and the letter was sent as a proactive approach. It was rumours that circulated in the industry, which led to the proactive decision to educate their members.
Cudos to Gopal Sahota and the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board for their proactive approach to maintaining professionalism, safety and security of real estate. A home is the largest purchase that the average Canadian will make in their lifetime. Canada prides itself as a leading jurisdiction in protecting the real estate transaction process and homeowner rights.
This reputation has helped attract investors from around the world. Anything activity that undermines this reputation affects us all.