One of Canada's most outrageous mortgage scandals to be focus of new documentary

It is set for a fresh wave of attention

One of Canada's most outrageous mortgage scandals to be focus of new documentary

In Capitalisms, an in-the-works docuseries planned for online release, filmmaker Bryan Bakker aims to explore how extreme wealth, or the similarly profound lack of it, distorts the way justice is served in Canada. Its intended first target is the perpetrator of one of the country’s most notorious mortgage frauds, Fortress Real Developments.

The Fortress story – a slimy narrative that brings together unlicensed mortgage brokers, more than $900 million in lost life savings, and a brazen syndicated mortgage scam – is one that will be familiar to many Canadians, not just the approximately 14,000 investors taken in by the scheme.

Despite the heavy publicity the scandal has already received, Corrine Sutej, one of Fortress’ victims, says it’s important that Canadians aren’t allowed to forget the company’s transgressions, or who suffered at its hands.

“The victims were hard working, everyday Canadians who invested in what they thought was a safe investment,” Sutej told Mortgage Broker News. “If white collar crime happened to these people, it can happen to anyone. I hope other investors come forward after seeing the documentary, so they know they’re not alone.”

Sutej said the documentary will serve two other important functions: further exposing the principals of Fortress, Jawad Rathore and Vince Petrozza, and their inner circle; and highlighting the actions of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, who she said “failed miserably” in its duties to protect the province’s consumers from what many believe was the largest mortgage fraud in Canadian history.

A Press release for the film stated that Capitalisms will illustrate “the human damage” caused not only by FSCO’s oversight but also that of the Ontario Securities Commission and the Law Society of Ontario.

“Victims claim they were defrauded through obfuscation and deception and point the finger at FSCO and a cabal of allegedly crooked mortgage brokers, lawyers, and businesspeople,” said the release.

Sutej invested over $20,000 in LIRA funds into a Brad Lamb project slated for construction in Calgary, but ground was never broken. The land, she explained, was sold and the Trustee involved, FAAN Mortgage Administrators, confirmed that Sutej received a rather paltry payout, 10% of the principal, as compensation.

“Those funds were meant to be for our children, so this has been very upsetting for us,” she said. “However, this experience has made me want to fight for justice for my family and for the other victims of syndicated mortgage investments,” who refer to themselves collectively as VOSMI.

The film’s Press release said that public record evidence recovered from six separate police raids in 2017 shows “layers of complexity and fraud,” adding that no-one involved in the scandal has yet been charged and “none of the people who have lost everything have been compensated.”

“This series,” Bakker said, “more than anything, is about exploring the disparity between the rules for the 1% and the rules for the rest of us.”

The project is currently seeking support through GoFundMe.

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