British Columbia

B.C. couple scrambled to cover shortfall after real estate agent embezzled $30K in deposits

A pair of B.C. homebuyers whose real estate agent embezzled $30,000 in deposits will be compensated through a program for victims of fraud and misappropriation.

Real Estate Special Compensation Fund will cover losses caused by Katharine Virtanen's fraud

The Real Estate Council of B.C.'s compensation committee found that former agent Katharine Virtanen pocketed multiple deposits that were supposed to be applied toward the purchase of a home in Chilliwack, B.C., in 2014. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

A pair of B.C. homebuyers whose real estate agent embezzled $30,000 in deposits will be compensated through a program for victims of fraud and misappropriation.

In a decision posted online last week, the Real Estate Council of B.C. approved William Schut and Marilyn MacCallum's claim for reparation through the Real Estate Special Compensation Fund.

The council's compensation committee found that former agent Katharine Virtanen pocketed multiple deposits that were supposed to be applied toward the purchase of a home in Chilliwack, B.C., in 2014.

Schut and MacCallum only discovered the shortfall as the deal was closing, forcing them to sell a stash of precious metals in order to make up the missing funds.

Committee chair Yasin Amlani wrote that "Virtanen had devised a scheme in order to misappropriate funds from Mr. William Schut and Ms. Marilyn MacCallum," and that she had acquired this cash through fraud.

The committee ordered that a certificate be issued to Schut and MacCallum, compensating them for their losses.

The Real Estate Special Compensation Fund is a pool of money maintained by the real estate council through fees paid by licensees. It's meant to compensate those who've lost money because of the actions of a real estate professional, up to a maximum of $100,000.

Lawsuit over unpaid loans

Virtanen is no longer listed as a licensed agent with the real estate council, but it appears Schut and MacCallum aren't the only people who've lost money to her.

Four years ago, Virtanen was the subject of a lawsuit through small claims court over $22,500 in unpaid loans plus interest owed to Ron and Shelley Gordon of Langley, B.C.

Court records show that a judicial justice had to issue a warrant for Virtanen's arrest before she appeared in court for a hearing on repaying the Gordons' money.

Records also show that Virtanen filed for bankruptcy in 2016 and applied to have her debts discharged a year later.

That application was denied after a trustee said that, among other things, she had contributed to her bankruptcy by "rash and hazardous speculations, by unjustifiable extravagance in living, by gambling or by culpable neglect," according to a 2017 order from B.C. Supreme Court.

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