The fight against mortgage fraud continues, albeit with less media coverage than the Home Trust revelation – and in this particular case, with the accused choosing to defend herself in court.
Adina Harms Barbour, formerly of Lethbridge, Alta., who is on trial for mortgage fraud decided not to take the stand last week and testify on her own behalf, instead calling on her a mortgage broker and her sister – also a witness for the prosecution.
According to the Herald, Barbour’s sister, Kornelia Harms, returned to court to testify for Barbour, after having been a witness for the Crown. However, Kornelia provided little evidence to support her sister’s case, and Barbour, who is defending herself, often had to be warned by the judge for asking inappropriate and irrelevant questions.
In addition, Barbour’s ex-husband Allen was called to the stand to testify on behalf of the Crown.
He told the court he was involved with Barbour in buying homes in other people’s names, and had been assured it was legal. When a woman contacted Barbour about a home that had been purchased in her name without her knowledge, Allen urged her to set things right.
Barbour was arrested after police searched a Lethbridge home in late 2010, and was charged in connection with local mortgage frauds between 2007 and 2009 totalling more than $2.8 million.
Calgary police had previously uncovered a related Mortgage fraud operation worth $12 million that involved 22 Calgary homes and eight banks, according to the Lethbridge Herald. Buyers in that scheme were allegedly convinced to use their names to obtain mortgages as an investment opportunity and were told those behind the plan would take over the mortgages after six months – with the promise that the buyers were to receive between $3,000 and $5,000.
The fraud came to light after the lawyer of one of the victims congratulated her on buying a new home – a transaction the woman knew nothing about. The other purchasers only became aware they had been used for similar mortgage applications once police began their investigation.
The case predates the Home Trust case that claimed headlines this summer. The lender brought forward allegations following its suspension of 45 broker partners over income statements back in August.
Although on a much smaller scale, the Barbour case has again brought fraud into the public eye – with some unintended comic relief reported from the courtroom.
He also testified he found mortgage-related documents in the basement that had been altered by cutting and pasting, which he turned over to the Crown after he had moved out of the house following the couple’s separation.
Initially charged along with Barbour, the charges against Allen were eventually dropped.
The case continues.