In Vancouver, British Columbia, The Province
- Two Vancouver sisters have been ordered to pay a total of more than $240,000 by a judge due to a mortgage fraud perpetrated by the son of one of the women who was later found dead in the trunk of a car.
Court heard that in March 2009 Jason Lee used a fraudulent power of attorney in his aunt Sylvia Chan’s name to place a mortgage on the aunt’s Vancouver home.
Lee arranged to have the net proceeds of the mortgage, about $246,000, deposited into Chan’s bank account and convinced her to allow all of the money to be paid to him the same day.
He transferred $15,000 into an account belonging to Alice Lee, his mother, and used the rest of the money for himself.
Immediately after the mortgage was registered and the funds advanced to Lee, the mortgage went into default, said B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elaine Adair.
“In June 2010, Jason Lee was found dead in the trunk of a car,” said the judge in her ruling. “His hands had been bound and a plastic bag placed over his head, and a blood test revealed heroin in his body.”
The judge added the circumstances of the death remain a mystery but there is evidence that as of 2009, Lee had been “mixed up with the wrong people,” who were after him for money and had made threats on his life to his mother.
“While alive, Jason Lee was the source of much worry and heartache for his mother,” the judge said.
The mortgage lender, Reliable Mortgages Investment Corp., sued the two women for damages on the grounds of fraud or conversion. The company also sued the notary who witnessed the power of attorney.
In her ruling, the judge found that the two women, who have lived in Vancouver since the mid-1970s and have earned a modest income as housekeeping staff at a downtown hotel, had not committed fraud themselves.
“Neither Ms. Chan nor Ms. Lee had any contact with, or knew anything about, Reliable prior to the loan being advanced. Neither Ms. Chan nor Ms. Lee created, or indeed had any knowledge, of the power of attorney that was used to obtain the loan proceeds. That was Jason Lee’s doing, and his alone.”
But the two women were held responsible because they were both wilfully blind as to what Jason Lee was up to, said the judge.
Chan accepted without question an “incredible, preposterous” story told to her by Jason Lee and should have been highly suspicious, she said.
“Ms. Lee, knowing what she knew about her son, and what he had already done to her personally, also had no reasonable basis to believe anything Jason Lee told her or to trust anything he did as legitimate.”
The judge held Chan liable for the sum of $246,000 and of that sum, Lee was liable for $15,000. The claim against Akash Sablok, the notary, was dismissed.