Clients of real estate broker David Douglas are happy the Manitoba Securities Commission is holding a hearing into whether Douglas can continue as a broker.
"We all want the same thing. We want justice, and we want our money back," said Angie Zubrin in an interview with CBC News.
Edna Neufeld agreed, saying she found herself at retirement age and losing most of her savings because of her transactions with Douglas.
“Somehow David Douglas needs to be held accountable financially and morally, to everyone,” Neufeld said in an interview.
In hindsight, Neufeld admits she didn't ask enough questions of Douglas, her former employer.
Neufeld worked for Douglas for 13 years, trusted him, saw him as successful and wanted to help him further succeed in real estate.
But by the time she finished working for Douglas as a realtor at his company Homelife Village Realty last year, things had soured.
"I admit I was far too trusting and believed everything," Neufeld said. "I feel really betrayed by David Douglas."
Problems that Neufeld and Zubrin experienced now form part of the allegations against Douglas by the Manitoba Securities Commission in an upcoming hearing to determine whether his registration as a real estate broker should be cancelled and whether he'll be ordered to pay a fine.
Last week, the MSC imposed a suspension on Douglas’ registration in advance of the hearing set to begin April 23. Douglas has not responded to requests by CBC News to talk about the MSC allegations.
Last October, the CBC I-Team reported more than 20 people – former clients and employees of Douglas – were trying to recoup money from him.
Neufeld said for years she enjoyed a good working relationship with Douglas, putting in long hours in a busy real estate office, finding Douglas to be dynamic, personable and smart.
"He always kept his word with me," she said.
In addition to her work as a realtor, Neufeld said she also entered into arrangements with Douglas in which she would lend him money to invest in real estate. She said that went on for about three years, and the money was always repaid.
She said when Douglas proposed in 2012 that she help him with a transaction on a house at 183 Ash St., she agreed.
She said Douglas explained to her that he and his companies had too many properties and mortgages in their names, so he asked her to take out a mortgage for the Ash Street house.
"He presented it as a 'favour,'" she said, adding that she was to hold that property and another one in trust for him.
She said Douglas also agreed to pay her monthly for this service.
The MSC alleges Douglas then arranged for Neufeld to take out a mortgage in the amount of $449,017 with the Royal Bank of Canada for 183 Ash St.
Neufeld said she signed an agreement saying Douglas' company (5995583 Mb Ltd.) was to be responsible for paying the mortgage, taxes and any other costs.
When Neufeld questioned Douglas about how she could qualify for a mortgage that high, she said he put her mind at ease.
"He said, 'Oh your credit is really, really good, and you don't have to worry about it,'” she recalled. She said he said not to worry because he would be making the mortgage payments.
"I thought I was helping him grow his business," she said.
But she said she later learned the deal was not as she expected, and she found herself on the hook for the mortgage and expenses.
She admits she didn’t get copies of all the documents.
"I signed the mortgage documents, but I signed them with the understanding that it was in trus,t and I wasn't going to be responsible for any of the costs," she said.
Neufeld said it was Douglas who provided the financial information about her to the Royal Bank to obtain the mortgage.
The MSC alleges Douglas did not tell the bank about the trust agreement between his company 5995583 Mb Ltd. and Neufeld.
And there's another point the MSC alleges Douglas did not disclose to the bank: that someone else also had an interest in the house at 183 Ash St.
Months before Douglas made his proposal to Neufeld about the property, Zubrin and her husband Todd Herman made a deal with Douglas for 183 Ash St.
They were to buy it as an investment property, renovate it using a construction company Douglas operated and then re-sell the house for a profit.
The purchase price was $335,000 and the renovations would cost tens of thousands of dollars on top of that.
The deal called for Douglas’ company to remain the registered owner of the house until Zubrin and Herman paid what they owed, the MSC said. Douglas would also provide financing to Herman for the project.
But the renovation work went unfinished and the deal soured.
“It just seemed like right from the start once we handed over the money -- that was it. He became so elusive that it was like he was a ghost,” Zubrin said in an interview with CBC. “He just was not around.”
The MSC alleges Douglas either refused or neglected to finish the renovations.
Herman said it’s mind-boggling that Neufeld also became involved with the same property he and Zubrin believed they were buying.
“I don’t know how this hasn't drawn a red flag anywhere else, but it's just amazing how so many people could be tied up into one house without anyone really thinking anything of it and crossing documents somewhere," said Herman.
Zubrin adds she’s glad the securities commission has now brought a case against Douglas.
In addition to the mortgage for 183 Ash St., Douglas also approached Neufeld to take title of a house at 146 Eugenie St.
In this case, the MSC alleges Douglas contacted Sun Mortgage Corporation to arrange a mortgage for Neufeld in the amount of $225,000.
The MSC alleges it was Douglas who supplied the paperwork to Sun Mortgage and in it, he included a stale-dated credit bureau check for Neufeld that did not disclose her mortgage with Royal Bank for the Ash Street house.
In addition, the MSC alleges Douglas falsely stated Neufeld’s salary as $120,000 annually.
The regulator says that when Douglas approached each bank, Sun Mortgage Corporation and RBC, he falsely stated that the purchase was for a primary residence for Neufeld.
The regulator goes on to say that neither bank would've released the funds if presented with the truth about the deal.
Herman said he believes the information that has come out so far is just the tip of the iceberg.
“It boggles my mind that a red flag hasn't come up through these banking institutions,” said Herman.
“Every mortgage I've ever gone for I've always had to talk to somebody in person. How this happened ... just boggles my mind,” he said.
Neufeld said she discovered after the fact that a document pertaining to one of the properties had a signature that looked like hers on it. But she said she couldn’t have signed it on Jan. 26, 2013 because she was on vacation in Maui.
“I believe these mortgages were obtained fraudulently because the information isn’t right. I had no ability to pay,” she said.
The MSC is alleging fraud in the case and accuses Douglas of dishonest dealing with Zubrin, Herman and Neufeld to obtain money.
None of the allegations have been proven.
Douglas’s mother, Geraldine Douglas, also faces allegations by the securities commission.
It is alleged that she, as authorized official of Homelife Village Realty and another company, failed to adequately supervise the businesses and transactions.
As for the house at 183 Ash St., it now has a new owner and appears to be unfinished and vacant.