Police investigating Toronto condo developer over reports of fraud
WATCH ABOVE: Toronto police are investigating a number of fraud complaints from people who thought they were buying units in a yet to be built North York condominium. Cindy Pom spoke with some of those families and tells us why at least one man noticed warning signs early on.
TORONTO – What was supposed to be a dream come true for a group of condo buyers has turned into months of anguish as they wait for answers as to what happened to an up-and-coming condo building in North York.
The condo development located at Yonge and Finch was supposed to feature a hotel, retail, and residential space. But now prospective buyers fear they have collectively lost millions after plans by the developer fell through this past January.
Toronto police confirm their fraud unit is looking into “multiple complaints” against Centrust Development Group amid reports the company defrauded buyers out of their down payments on units.
Thomas Ma and his wife Sherrie Huang bought a unit with the hope of opening a store in the development at 5220 Yonge St.
“It’s very ridiculous,” said Huang. “We have not had a chance to reach the developer since the end of last year.”
The couple put a down payment of $40,000 on a unit but say they have been desperately trying to reach the developer, Sup (Joseph) Lee, of Centrust Development to get their money back.
The company’s address is listed by Lee at 1125 Finch Avenue West, but when Global News visited the location a different company was found to be renting the property.
Attempts by Global News to call Lee at a number provided in letters he gave to residents were answered by a recording saying the number was not in service.
Ma and Huang say they have also contacted Lee’s lawyer Meerai Cho who was in charge of handling the money.
“She said she transferred the money to the developer in error. That is over $12 million,” said Huang.
Calls by Global News requesting comment on the matter from Cho were not returned.
Andrew la Fleur, a real estate agent with TrueCondos.com, had warned potential buyers about the development as early as 2011.
“There were some red flags that stood out to me about them,” said la Fleur. “The first was that, in speaking to the developers’ representatives, they couldn’t answer just some basic questions about the development.”
La Fleur says one of the questions the developer couldn’t answer was how the sales were being handled.
“The second red flag for me was that they were an overseas developer operating here in Toronto, and they didn’t seem to have any local Toronto connections,” he said.
La Fleur says the best advice he can offer future condo buyers is to look at the track record of developers, and the previous buildings they have built.
As for Ma and Huang, the couple say they have hired a lawyer and are planning a class action lawsuit against the developer along with other investors who lost money.
*With files from Global’s Cindy Pom
© Shaw Media, 2014