British Columbia

B.C. real estate agent says he impersonated another agent under orders from his boss

A Metro Vancouver real estate agent who's been stripped of his licence for impersonating another agent during a deal says he was new to the industry and "blindly followed" the orders of his boss.

Tian Yi (Richard) Li's licence has been cancelled after he admitted to professional misconduct

The Real Estate Council of B.C. is cancelling the licence of an agent who impersonated someone else during a deal. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

A Metro Vancouver real estate agent who's been stripped of his licence for impersonating another agent during a deal says he was new to the industry and "blindly followed" the orders of his boss.

Tian Yi Li, also known as Richard, has consented to the cancellation of his licence after admitting to professional misconduct, according to a recent notice from the Real Estate Council of B.C. (RECBC).

Li used another agent's business cards to cultivate a new client and allowed that other agent's name to be used on official documents, including a contract of purchase and sale, a consent order says. The other agent was out of the country at the time.

Li had only been licensed for a few weeks when this happened in 2016, and he says he was unfamiliar with the rules and misled by his boss, a man identified by the initials R.K. in RECBC documents.

"As a team leader, he asked me to use another licensee's business card in the transaction. I was in the industry at that time for less than two months and blindly followed his order," Li wrote in an email to CBC News.

"It makes no sense for me to use someone else's card because it would mean that the commission would go to another person instead of me. I only did it because my team leader [R.K.] told me to."

Li said his advice for new real estate agents is to be cautious about joining a team and be sure to "follow an experienced and honest team leader."

In an email, a lawyer for the real estate agent Li identified as R.K. said he "vehemently denies" these allegations.

Spokespeople for the council have yet to respond to requests for comment on whether there are any disciplinary proceedings involving R.K.

Li's licence will be cancelled on June 21, and he will not be eligible to apply for a new one for the next three years. He's also been ordered to pay $1,500 in enforcement costs.

Impersonated agent was overseas

The full background to what happened, including more of Li's explanation for why it happened, is contained in a consent order proposal he submitted to the council in April, in which he agrees his licence should be terminated.

It all happened in the fall of 2016, when Li was working for Metro Edge Realty in Richmond, according to the proposal.

Li told the council that in September 2016, the brokerage informed its agents that anyone who did not give three months' notice before leaving the agency would not receive any pending commission. Li was planning to find a new employer at the time.

But another agent, referred to by the initials J.J., left the agency soon after, and Li alleges R.K. told his team they could work under J.J.'s name.

When J.J. left, he gave Li some of his new business cards and provided R.K. with some samples of contracts and other documents with his name and new brokerage.

"J.J. says that he provided the documents to R.K. because he wanted to show R.K. that he would now be doing deals under his own name, rather than under R.K.'s name, as was the practice while he was part of R.K.'s team," the proposal says.

Li said R.K. introduced him to a buyer in October 2016, and before they met with a seller's agent for a condo development in Delta, "R.K. instructed him to use J.J.'s name as the buyer's agent and to provide J.J.'s business card to the development's presentation centre," the proposal says.

Li helped the buyer make an offer using J.J.'s name, gave J.J.'s business card to the seller's agent, signed a "Working with a Realtor" brochure below the name J.J., and did not correct the contract of purchase and sale when it listed J.J. as the buyer's agent, according to the proposal.

Li told the council he tried to reach J.J. while the deal was being negotiated but had no luck.

J.J. only discovered what had happened when staff at the presentation centre emailed him to let him know he was owed a commission. He replied to tell them there must be some mistake.

"Mr. Li advised that after J.J. returned from China, J.J. blocked his number and would not speak with Mr. Li," the proposal says.

The seller ended up releasing the buyer from her contract and returned her deposit.

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