Austin Acheson, 28, of London. Photo provided by London police.  Austin Acheson, 28, of London. Photo provided by London police.
London

More victims of home reno, mortgage scam possible: London police

A concerned reverse mortgage salesperson is being credited with saving an elderly Londoner from a complex home renovation and mortgage scam.

The fraud is alleged to have taken place between July and December of 2021. It began when a door-to-door salesperson convinced an elderly resident to sign a deal to have various products installed in their west London home. The products included attic insulation, a water filter, and water softener, for which the resident agreed to pay monthly for a lengthy period, London police said in a statement released on Wednesday.

After the installation, liens or "Notice of Security Interest” (NOSIs) were taken out against the resident's home without their knowledge or permission.

The salesperson later returned to the residents' home several months later where he convinced them he could help deal with the liens and outstanding debts. He advised the resident to take out a private mortgage to pay for the previous home renovations. He then had the resident sign a mortgage application which resulted in a high-interest private mortgage in the name of the victim being issued. The scam is then alleged to have continued with the man convincing the resident he could assist with additional renovations to the home with the work completed exceeding the cost to carry it out.

According to police, it was at this time the man got the resident to apply for a reverse mortgage to pay back the private loan that was originally obtained. The reverse mortgage salesperson became concerned the resident was being scammed and called police last summer.

Investigators determined the man was the same suspect involved in a similar mortgage-related fraud reported in Cambridge.

Austin Acheson, 28, of London is charged with two counts each of fraud over $5,000 and fraud under $5,000. He was arrested earlier this month and is scheduled to make his next court appearance on March 11.

Police believe Acheson, who has previously gone by the names of “Victor”, “Victor Rodrigues”, “Cliff”, “Clifford”, and “Don”., may have approached others with this or a similar scam. In an effort to get those people to come forward they have publicly released a photo of the 28-year-old.

Anyone who believes they were defrauded by Acheson is advised to call police 519-661-5670. A fraud report can also be made through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

In an effort to prevent others from being scammed in a similar manner, police offered some advice to homeowners.

"People involved in this scam will often initiate contact with their targeted victims, by attending their address or contacting them over the telephone," said Detective Sergeant Adam Steele. "If something is offered for 'free' or at a severely discounted price, the customer should apply the appropriate amount of skepticism to the deal and ask questions before making a decision.”

He added that homeowners should ensure they are working with a reputable company when deciding to make repairs or purchase new appliances.

"We encourage everyone to talk about this type of fraud with their family and friends, particularly seniors and those who may be in a vulnerable position," said Steele.

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