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Toronto office shooting: Alleged mortgage fraud pushed husband ‘to the edge,’ wife says

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Gunman in Toronto office shooting was ‘pushed to the edge,’ wife says
WATCH - Gunman in Toronto office shooting was 'pushed to the edge,' wife says – Jun 20, 2024

The gunman in a Toronto office shooting that left two people dead was “pushed to the edge,” his widow says, after the couple allegedly fell victim to a scam and lost their life savings.

Speaking to Global News on Thursday, Alisa Pogorelovsky said her husband Alan Kats was a “humble man” who loved his family.

They were married for more than nine years and have two children, aged 17 and six.

Pogorelovsky said their lives were “amazing” and “happy,” but once they fell victim to an alleged scam, “everything changed.”

“He couldn’t work. He couldn’t do anything. He couldn’t concentrate. He stopped sleeping, he stopped eating,” she said of her husband.

“He stopped being himself. He just couldn’t take it that people can come and take your money and just leave you behind without any fears and still go to work in the same office where it’s happened and just continue doing what they continue doing.”

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Couple 'asked for help and nobody did nothing'

Arash Missaghi and Samira Yousefi were shot dead on Monday in an office building off Mallard Road in North York, near Don Mills and York Mills roads.

Kats, 46, also died at the scene.

Speaking at the scene Monday, Det.-Sgt. Al Bartlett said before the shooting took place, an altercation “in relation” to the business unfolded.

Click to play video: 'More details emerge about fatal Toronto office shooting'
More details emerge about fatal Toronto office shooting

Earlier this week, Pogorelovsky said in a statement that her husband “could not handle losing our life’s savings” in an alleged mortgage fraud Missaghi and Yousefi were being accused of.

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“The events that gave rise to the litigation that we are involved in with Missaghi and Yousefi have devastated and now destroyed our family. Alan could not handle losing our life’s savings and that is what lead to this tragic event,” Pogorelovsky said in the statement.

“He wrote a note before he died that I found today which explains what he was thinking and why he acted as he did. I hope that someday my family will be able to recover.”

Click to play video: 'Toronto office shooting: Suspect upset over losing life’s savings, wife says'
Toronto office shooting: Suspect upset over losing life’s savings, wife says

That note, which Pogorelovsky shared, said Kats’ death was “in the hands of” Missaghi and Yousefi, as well as two other individuals.

“Stop these criminals from destroying people’s lifes,” the note read.

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In the interview Thursday, Pogorelovsky said no one helped them once they fell victim to the alleged scam.

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“We just (went) everywhere, asked for help and nobody did nothing,” she said, adding her husband “was pushed to the edge.”

Couple suing over 'syndicated mortgage fraud'

Missaghi and Yousefi were named in a lawsuit filed this year by Pogorelovsky, who accused the duo of being involved in a “syndicated mortgage fraud” that saw her lose $1.28 million and her family home, court filings show.

Missaghi had faced legal trouble in the past; in March 2018, he was charged by Toronto police in an alleged mortgage fraud investigation dubbed “Project Bridle Path.” A spokesperson for the Ministry of the Attorney General told Global News that in July 2021, the Crown withdrew the charges against Missaghi.

Arash Missaghi, a businessman, was named alongside Golnaz Vakili in several civil suits containing allegations of mortgage fraud. Missaghi said he had nothing to do with the missing funds and doesn’t know where Vakili, who has been in hiding since March 2013, has gone. Randy Risling/Toronto Star via Getty Images

According to Pogorelovsky’s lawsuit, her family wanted to create an investment fund by releasing the equity in their home. They mortgaged it, and paid into a fund that promised a higher rate of return with investments in syndicated private mortgages.

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The lawsuit alleges Yousefi operated Saarad Investments Inc., the “front for the scheme.” The funds managed by Yousefi were to be secured on mortgages in the Greater Toronto Area. Two real estate lawyers represented the “syndicate,” the lawsuit claims, alleging they were affiliated with the scheme that was an “elaborate ruse to obtain the plantiff’s money.”

Over time, Pogorelovsky invested $850,000, $400,000 and $80,000 in three properties. Pogorelovsky “hounded” Yousefi for progress on investment returns, the lawsuit alleges. She eventually started to receive some small payments, which “appear to have been efforts to comfort the plaintiff as to the progress of the mortgage investments,” court documents read.

“The plaintiff finally discovered there were no mortgages on the properties securing the plaintiff’s investments. The plaintiff hired lawyers, whose investigations into the matters turned up similarities to a number of mortgage fraud schemes allegedly organized by Arash Missaghi,” the filing reads.

Samira Yousefi was identified as one of the victims in a fatal shooting in North York on Monday. Samira Yousefi/Facebook

In February, the judge hearing the case ordered the accused’s assets be frozen. However, the lawsuit stated while two of the defending parties responded, the others did not.

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“Apart from a small amount frozen in one of the other defendants’ bank accounts, the other non-lawyer defendants have so far not been affected by the order,” court documents read.

Pogorelovsky said the justice system let them down, but noted that there are still court proceedings.

“I hope that people will hear me and understand that this man — he just wanted to protect his family,” she said.

Sofia Medvedyav, a close friend of the Kats family, told Global News on Thursday it was “devastating” to see “somebody so bright” being taken advantage of.

Michael Ackerman, a friend of Kats’, said he was in “complete shock” at what had happened, prompting him to begin to look into the alleged scam and what may have transpired.

“I understand what he did, but I don’t condone it,” he told Global News.

“This is a completely irrational action that led him — he was in a bad place, I believe, tried to protect his family and he took justice in his own hands. He felt the system failed him and he had to go and take action in his own hands.”

The Change.org petition started by Ackerman calls for Canada to reform how it handles syndicated mortgages and white collar crime.

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“There is a flaw in the system, definitely… but all these regulations are useless if they are not applied, if there’s no control and application to the regulations,” Ackerman said. “I think that is the main problem.”

The petition specifically calls for stronger legislation around syndicated mortgage scams and an effort from the court system to process such cases faster to avoid charges being dropped.

“I am not familiar with the syndicated mortgages but I know a thing or two about policy… and I think what’s important is to create proper policy and enforce it,” Ackerman said.

“There has to be a level of enforcement to stop scammers.”

Click to play video: 'Calls for tougher enforcement after murder-suicide'
Calls for tougher enforcement after murder-suicide

'I didn't know anything'

Aside from identifying Missaghi and Yousefi, police have not shared any new information since Monday evening.

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Pogorelovsky said that on Monday, she had no idea that her husband was going to go and commit the shooting.

“No, I didn’t know anything,” she said.

“I couldn’t tell because he was in such a bad state.”

Click to play video: 'Suspected gunman among 3 dead in Toronto office shooting, police say'
Suspected gunman among 3 dead in Toronto office shooting, police say

Medvedyav said a GoFundMe page has been started for Pogorelovsky, who has also resorted to selling her artwork to make ends meet.

“These people lost their life savings. They spent their entire lives saving up. They worked hard,” she said.

“These people started businesses in a country that they did not know the language of, that they did not know anything in, so what do they have left right now?”

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Alisa Pogorelovsky has resorted to selling her art to help make ends meet. A GoFundMe has also been set up. Global News

The police investigation remains ongoing.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7400 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477.

— with files from Sean O’Shea, Isaac Callan and Catherine McDonald

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