Montreal man charged in $5M mortgage fraud

RCMP have arrested a Montreal businessman they say may have been responsible for mortgage fraud totalling more than $5 million.

RCMP have arrested a Montreal businessman they say may have been responsible for mortgage fraud totalling more than $5 million.

Robert Manuel Moniz, 37, was arrested Thursday morning and faces 53 charges, including fraud, forgery and uttering forged documents.

Moniz is alleged to have persuaded his victims to lend him their names to help him buy properties in the Montreal and Laval areas in return for a few thousand dollars and a promise he could boost their credit ratings.

Police believe the man then falsified documents to inflate the individual's financial identity.

"The mortgage payments were made for a while, and then stopped, without the knowledge of the [victims]," Cpl. Luc Thibault said. "After that, [they] were informed by their mortgage institution that their mortgage payments were overdue, and that is just when they realized they had been … swindled by the accused."

So far, police said, they have identified 19 fraudulent transactions. They said they are looking into almost 100 others that occurred between March 1, 2007 and July 12, 2008, Thibault said.

Alleged victims mainly young people

Thibault said the victims include individual investors as well as financial institutions and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

Many of Moniz's alleged victims are young people in their 20s, including Maria Valente's son Jeffrey.

She said Moniz offered him $5,000 to use his name on the mortgage for a condo. Then, she said, the bank called saying the mortgage payments had stopped.

"My son, the last we knew, he owed about $250,000," Valente said.

"We're looking into him claiming bankruptcy, which is not a good thing. It's ruining him for a long time to come, even forever."

RCMP are warning potential investors to be wary of such offers, known as nominee transactions.

"Nominee transactions are legal," Thibault said. "We just wish to reiterate the importance of being extremely vigilant when someone offers you to act as a nominee for purposes of property, because in case of a failure to repay the loan, you are financially bound to the contract you entered into as a nominee."

Valente said she knows her son is responsible for having allowed his name to be used to buy the condo. But she said she feels her son's bank and the notary involved share some of the blame for having allowed falsified documents to slip through.

Moniz's arrest brings her family little comfort, she said.

"People like this that do things to humans — they're dirt, they're below my soul. They shouldn't be out there."