More than $300K in fines levied after fraudulent sale of B.C. home

The unoccupied five-bedroom, six-bathroom property sold for $1.7 million in 2019 without the owner’s consent

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Several real estate professionals and a brokerage in Richmond, B.C., have been fined more than $300,000 for their role in the unauthorized sale of an unoccupied residential property.

The British Columbia Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) levied the financial penalties following an investigation into the 2019 sale of the home, which is owned by Chinese businesswoman Yuan You.

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You purchased the five-bedroom, six-bathroom property for $783,177 in 2004. In 2019, it sold for $1.7 million after the fraudulent transaction.

According to the BCFSA, at least two men were involved in the fraud. One posed as the owner of the house and used a fake driver’s licence to get a notarized power of attorney, while the second posed as the attorney to conduct the sale.

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The sale was facilitated by Pacific Evergreen Realty Ltd., and the company has been ordered to pay a $25,000 discipline penalty and $5,000 in enforcement expenses. It is also required to submit a compliance plan detailing its staff and licensees’ expected responses to suspicious or potentially fraudulent transactions.

Tracy Xiaomei Li, representing the seller, must pay a discipline penalty of $100,000 and $7,000 in enforcement expenses.

David Chian Wei Yang, representing the buyer, must pay a $50,000 discipline penalty and $5,000 in enforcement expenses.

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Managing brokers Lok Chi Annie Fong and Lo-Ming Lee must pay a $50,000 discipline penalty and $5,000 in enforcement expenses. Fong is also prohibited from being a managing broker at any brokerage for six months, while Lee is prohibited from being the sole managing broker at any brokerage for one year.

In addition to the financial penalties and licence conditions, Li, Yang, Fong and Lee must complete remedial education courses.

In its ruling, the BCFSA found that the agents, brokers and the brokerage were not complicit in any fraud but did not fulfil their due diligence responsibilities, including inadequate verification of identification documents, and a failure to address red flags such as the rushed nature of the sale.

“Licensees must uphold their professional obligations, even if they are under pressure from their clients. Those who neglect their professional responsibilities will face discipline, especially where there is consumer harm,” said Jonathan Vandall, vice president of compliance and enforcement at BCFSA. “The penalties reflect the severity of the licensees’ failure to meet their core responsibilities, including know-your-client obligations and duties to act honestly and with reasonable care and skill.”

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The case has resulted in both civil lawsuits and criminal charges, and You is asking for a B.C. Supreme Court judge to declare that she is the registered owner of the home and to strike the title granted to the current owner, per CBC.

Richard Irvin Yeltatzie, who allegedly impersonated You, has been charged with fraud, impersonation and using forged documents. After failing to appear in court on those charges, a warrant was issued for his arrest in April, but he has yet to be arrested.

Yeltatzie allegedly had a notary sign a power of attorney for Kieran Paul Yeltatzie, who then hired a real estate agent to sell the property. Both Yeltatzies were criminally charged last year but all charges against Kieran Yeltatize were stayed earlier this week.

A spokesperson for the B.C. Prosecution Service told CBC that the decision was made after the Crown received further information and concluded the charge approval standard had no longer been met.

Neither Yeltatzie responded to You’s civil lawsuit, leading to a default judgment being issued against both of them, with damages to be determined at a later date.

The home was resold in 2020 for $2.15 million according to property records. It is currently assessed at $2.75 million.

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