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Man accused of profiting off NOSIs in Ontario lived high life: social media posts

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One of the people accused of profiting off an allegedly predatory scheme involving a financial tool set to be banned by the Ontario government bragged on social media of sudden wealth, showing off multiple luxury cars.

The social media posts of Anas Ayyoub show a rags-to-riches tale of someone who was once “broke” riding the bus at 16 to a 22-year-old living the high life.

“Seven years ago I did whatever it took to scavenge for money just to provide food for my family. Now I drive a $1.4 million dollar Lambo,” wrote Ayyoub in one post.

But a civil lawsuit alleges that at least some of that money came from taking advantage of a vulnerable senior using an alleged scheme involving a Notice of Security Interest, or NOSI. A NOSI is a financial claim to a property based on equipment that’s been installed there.

In one alleged scheme described in the suit, 11 NOSis worth $150,000 were secured on Karl Hoffman’s Bowmanville property, for multiple products his family says he didn’t need.

He was 81 and had short-term memory loss from a brain aneurysm which made him too trusting, Hoffman's daughter-in-law said.

“When people came to the door, knocking at the door with all these great plans and ideas to help him, he thought that was real,” said his daughter-in-law, Melissa Irons.

A W5 investigation in February showed how easy it is to install a NOSI, even without the homeowner’s knowledge or consent, and how little scrutiny there is to check whether the amounts on the NOSI correspond to the actual value of the installed products.

For example, the suit alleges that one of those NOSIs, for $34,699, was for “plumbing valves upgrade and home surge protection equipment” but claims the actual value of the product was something that retailed for $299.

Then, the suit claims people approached Hoffman saying he needs to get a mortgage to pay these off, even providing lawyers to help.

“They appeared as ‘saviours’, but were in fact conspirators,” the lawsuit alleges, because that mortgage contained unfavourable terms that put Hoffman’s house at risk, after owning it outright for decades.

Karl Hoffman is seen in this undated photo. His family says they’re "thrilled" Ontario has moved to wipe out NOSIs, a tool used so often by scammers that it has been used to claim some $1 billion worth of value from properties across the province.

The allegations have not been proven in court. Reached by e-mail on Thursday, Ayyoub’s lawyer Eli Karp said simply, “No comment.”

Ontario’s Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery said he was aware of $1 billion worth of NOSIs on the books in Ontario – a sign that the financial tool needed to be abolished, including all existing NOSIs.

“That total is quite a large number and that means that criminal activity is being perpetuated, shall we say. So we need to address that with a retroactive effect with the legislation,” Todd McCarthy said Tuesday.

Two lawyers named in the Hoffman case have been suspended. Ontario’s Law Society warned lawyers last year about being part of any “exploitative loan agreement”, saying, “Lawyers must ensure that they inform themselves of the clients’ circumstances and are in a position to act in the best interests of their clients.”

The Hoffman family’s lawyer, Greg Weedon, says he’s concerned that while the NOSIs are to be wiped out, they haven’t been wiped out yet. He says he’s worried about a gold rush to profit off them in the coming months before they disappear.

“They’re going to try to extract as much as they can and that’s going to be on the backs of the consumers,” he said.

Hoffman passed away recently and would have loved to see the Ontario government’s action before he died, Irons said.

As for Ayyoub, it’s not clear where he has gone – the Hoffman family believes he has left the country. 

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