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A Manitoba Mortgage Broker’s Financial Abuse of an Older Adult

On January 16, 2024, Manitoba Provincial Court Justice Michael Clark delivered his oral reasons for Judgment in a case where a mortgage broker had stolen over half a million dollars from a widowed older adult. While I have previously written extensively on a mortgage scheme targeting older adults in Ontario,[1] this month, I felt it is appropriate to highlight an example of impropriety at the hands of a trusted advisor/investor.

On January 22, 2020, the Manitoba Securities Commission (“MSC”) warned seniors about the red flags of financial abuse after numerous charges were filed against a Manitoba mortgage salesperson (the “Former Mortgage Broker”).

The Former Mortgage Broker engaged in 18 illegal transactions between April 2016 and June 2017 was subsequently charged in Manitoba provincial court with multiple violations of The Securities Act[2] and The Mortgage Brokers Act,[3] including:

  • 18 counts in violation of The Securities Act, including trading without being registered; and
  • 36 counts in violation of The Mortgage Brokers Act, including acting as a mortgage broker and salesperson on his own behalf and failing to pay the registered broker with whom he was registered.[4]

The Manitoba provincial court heard evidence that while the Former Mortgage Broker wasn’t very close to the victim, he knew her because their mother’s attended the same church. In fact, the Former Mortgage Broker had previously met with the woman and her now deceased husband and offered to handle their money. This offer was declined, however, after the husband died, the Former Mortgage Broker approached the woman again and asked her to give the $500,000 she had remaining to him, instead of the bank.

Justice Clark in his oral reasons held that, the Former Mortgage Broker “promised he would take care of her until she died,” and, “made promises about giving her principal back within two years, and in the meantime, every month, she would receive a cheque for interest.”[5]

In sentencing the Former Mortgage Broker to a 15-month sentence in the community, Justice Clark held that this was “not a one-time act…[i]t was a repeated and an ongoing abuse of trust.”[6]

Interestingly, the conditions of the Former Mortgage Broker’s sentence will allow him to continue to go to the victim’s home to help with household tasks and errands. The court noted that while the offences occurred, the Former Mortgage Broker would drive his victim to church and appointments and take her to run errands.

While the Former Mortgage Broker did pay back a large portion of the money he stole, he still owes an undetermined amount in the range of $200,000 to $400,000.[7]

One of the aggravating factors is the fact that in 2006, the Former Mortgage Broker was banned by the MSC from registration under The Securities Act for 10 years. The court heard that he was sanctioned after being previously fired from Edward Jones Investments in 2002 for stealing from a widowed client.[8]

Know How to Spot the Signs of Financial Abuse

The MSC provides that some of the warnings and red flags of the financial abuse of an older adult can include:

  • Social isolation or withdrawal;
  • Dependence on another or financial support;
  • Substance abuse or misuse;
  • Depression or mental illness;
  • Sudden change in appearance (such as poor hygiene or weight loss);
  • Discrepancies between the adult’s standard of living and their financial assets; and
  • An individual who is overly protective or controlling of an older person.

The MSC operates an anti-fraud line in Manitoba at 1-855-FRAUD-MB.

[1] See “Notice to the Professions: Exploitative Loan Agreements” (August 31, 2023), WEL Partners Blog, accessed online at: https://welpartners.com/blog/2023/08/notice-to-the-professions-exploitative-loan-agreements/; See also, “The Alarming Rise of Scams Targeting Older Adults” (November 30, 2023), WEL Partners Blog, accessed online at: https://welpartners.com/blog/2023/11/the-alarming-rise-of-scams-targeting-older-adults/; See further, Brett Book, “Reviewing the Utility of Notices of Security Interests in the Context of Rampant Fraud” (December 23, 2023), WEL Partners Blog, accessed online at: https://welpartners.com/blog/2023/12/reviewing-the-utility-of-notices-of-security-interests-in-the-context-of-rampant-fraud/.

[2] RSM 1988, c S50.

[3] CCSM c M21.

[4] Manitoba Securities Commission, “MSC Warns Seniors of Financial Abuse Following Charges Against Manitoba Mortgage Broker” (January 22, 2020), accessed online at: http://www.mbsecurities.ca/news/current/dobbin.html.

[5] Caitlyn Gowriluk, “Man who obtained $500K from elderly widow sentenced to 15-month community sentence” (January 17, 2024), CBC Manitoba, accessed online at: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/bret-allan-dobbin-sentencing-1.7086958 [Gowriluk].

[6] Gowriluk, supra.

[7] This figure is contested by counsel for the Former Mortgage Broker and counsel for the Manitoba Securities Commission.

[8] See Manitoba Securities Commission, “Orders and Exemptions” (January 25, 2006), accessed online at: http://docs.mb.securities.ca/msc/oe/en/item/107509/index.do.


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