A Mississauga woman says she fell victim to a mortgage fraud and is stuck with a $640,000 bank lien on her home.
“I thought I was going to have a heart attack, I was a basket case,” said Lukrezia Buzanic, recalling the day she opened her mailbox to learn someone had applied for and received a loan using her name and home as collateral.
“It slapped me in the face like a tonne of bricks,” said the 59-year-old woman who contacted Global News in desperation.
She received the notification in 2012. She said she has been trying ever since to convince the bank that granted the loan that she’s a victim of title fraud. Buzanic said she never got the money but someone did.
“I am a victim. I don’t know how else to put it,” she said.
The loan financing was provided by Manulife Bank, which was the first federally-regulated bank opened by an insurance company in Canada in 1993.
Buzanic said she filed a fraud claim with Manulife Bank on Aug. 14, 2012 and signed an affidavit swearing she did not receive any money.
She also said she filed a complaint with the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments. But the organization declined to investigate the case because it is the subject of litigation.
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Norman J. Groot, Buzanic’s lawyer, said Manulife has been stalling efforts to get the issue into court.
“Manulife has not been moving this action forward. We have made repeated requests for their affidavit of documents and to schedule dates for examinations for discovery,” he wrote in an update to Buzanic shared with Global News.
When contacted by Global News, a Manulife spokesperson declined to discuss details of the case.
“As this matter is involved in active litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment. Manulife Bank takes all allegations of fraud very seriously and continuously implements robust measures to protect the best interests of its customers,” wrote Sean Pasternak, Manulife’s director of group functions and media relations, in an email.
Buzanic, who lives on a disability benefit, said she would like to sell her house and move to a townhouse, but can’t do so until the lien is removed.
“I want Manulife to do the right thing. They failed to do the proper verification protocol (in granting the loan). I want them to release my house from the lien, that’s all,” she said.
When Buzanic purchased the home in 1993, title insurance to protect consumers from fraud wasn’t an option. Today, it’s considered almost essential by real estate lawyers.
She said the stress of the financial loss has taken its toll on her.
“I’ve lost 45 pounds, I can’t sleep, it’s 24 hour a day stress,” said Buzanic, fighting tears.
“There is no fighting the big guns — that’s the bottom line.”