CTV – oad to Ruin:
It was supposed to be a stress-free investment for Florence and Jim Langford. After all, the retired Saskatchewan couple was only looking for a little extra income to supplement their retirement savings.
But today, the Langfords have virtually nothing left to show for their many years of hard work. Their life savings are non-existent. “We farmed, we had cattle, Jim drove a propane truck and I taught school,” says Florence Langford. We worked hard for our retirement and we planned it, and it should have been there.”
It all started when Florence decided to take an investment course with a company called Whitney Canada. She attended a free seminar that was often advertised on late-night infomercials, and soon found she was paying tens of thousands of dollars for more advanced training.
Whitney Canada claimed it would share the secrets of successful real estate investing, and connect investors with expert ‘mentors’ who would guide them along the way to financial success.
To their surprise, the Langfords discovered that the power team had purchased two rental properties for them in the little Ontario town of Hawkesbury, located halfway between Ontario and Quebec, without consulting or discussing the investment with them first. In fact, the couple had never even heard of Hawkesbury before. “Jim and I were phoning, faxing, emailing everyday,” says Florence. “We couldn’t get any answers.”
Then there was more bad news. The Langfords found out that a second mortgage had been put on the houses – and that the $272,000 they had paid for each property was significantly over the market value.
They weren’t alone. Dozens of other investors across the country found themselves in the same situation. Ernie Szpivak, a professional appraiser in Hawkesbury, estimates that the properties were likely worth half as much as investors such as the Langfords paid.