The Ottawa family who received a $10,000 cheque from an embattled rent-to-own business say they can't cash it because the owner's bank halted the payment.
Chantal Scott took the $10,000 cheque — delivered to her door on Tuesday evening by company owner Jean-Claude Lacasse — to a Laurentian Bank of Canada branch on Wednesday afternoon.
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A clerk faxed a copy of the cheque to the TD Bank branch on Strandherd Drive that issued it in order to have it verified, and Scott said the TD Bank sent a fax back to stop the payment.
"To be honest, I wasn't surprised," Scott said by phone from the bank.
Family of 8 forced to move out of new home
Scott and her partner, James Cronier, had signed a contract with Lacasse's company, called Golden Oaks Rent 2 Own Canada, for a three-bedroom, 2,000-square-foot townhouse in the east Ottawa suburb of Orleans.
The couple had been living in a small public housing unit with their six children and said they could not afford a larger home.
The agreement, in the eyes of the couple, stated that a $10,000 down payment and then $1,800 per month in rent would ultimately lead to purchasing the home in about five years.
The contract also stated the couple would receive the down payment back as a credit after they had officially purchased the home.
The family moved into their new home on June 21, but were told to move out just days later by the holder of a second mortgage on the home.
Scott says Lacasse insists nothing wrong with cheque
Scott said she called Lacasse from the bank about the cheque and received no answer at first, but got hold of him by phone later in the afternoon.
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"He said there was nothing wrong with it," Scott said, adding that Lacasse told her he needed a few days to get her another cheque.
"He said he apologized. He said he doesn't know how that happened because he said he went to the bank yesterday," Scott said. "I don't know what to believe anymore. I've been through so much this past week. I just can't go through it anymore. I'm tired, I'm exhausted."
Recent news coverage of the story caused the bank to halt the payment, Scott said she was told.
"Actually Mr. Lacasse explained that to me, that because of everything that's going on in the news they actually stopped everything from going through. I actually called the bank to confirm if his story was true, and she said yes," Scott said.
Lawsuits against Lacasse, Golden Oaks add up to more than $2M
CBC News has learned that 18 people have filed 10 lawsuits against Lacasse in the past three months, adding up to more than $2 million in claims.
Scott said she wanted to bring the cheque to police, but that TD Bank sent a courier to pick up the cheque for further analysis.
Scott initially filed a report with police about a week ago, she said.
Lacasse has not responded to repeated requests for interviews. In a statement issued Tuesday, he said the company was in the midst of restructuring.