Friday, March 14, 2008

Having talked about trespassing...

we can always tread lightly, with discretion. This one's just too juicy not to share. In my (almost) fifteen years of working the street it was a new one.

A longtime tenant of mine, a screenprinter and one of the nicest guys I've known in the game, comes to tell me he's selling his bizness and retiring. He will not be renewing his lease at termination and has someone to take the place over. Fine. I meet with the purchaser. (Technically, he's not actually buying my former tenant's bizness, only the factory, large screenprinting machines, dryers, compressors, ventilation equipment etc.) The purchaser seems like a nice enough guy. Young. Mild mannered. Makes no fuss. I'm told by my former tenant that the purchaser has already begun operating the bizness, has put the utilities (electricity and gas bills) under the new company name, and the only thing left for him is to get a new lease. I do my standard checks on the purchaser's company (supplier references, bank) and everything is clear. I draft the new lease. The purchaser comes to sign. He signs but at the meeting I'm told, "Oh, I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but I left my chequebook in the office. I'll be back tomorrow to give the security deposit and pay the first month's rent." One day passes, two, five... I call the phone numbers he left me. Out of service. The home address he provided belongs to a relative. "He doesn't live here," I'm told. The guy's vanished, without leaving a trace. I dig some more, check the public record on registered loans. As I suspected. Using the factory equipment as collateral, the guy conned the bank into giving him a quarter million dollars and, without doing a single day of bizness, the fraudster put a key to the door and walked away leaving everything. The only part of his game I couldn't quite figure out was how he got the bank loan in the first place. A lease is normally a prerequisite. According to the record, he had secured the loan two months prior to signing the new lease (and anyway, I never gave him a copy of the new lease because I was waiting for the deposit cheques.) Turns out he got a copy of the former tenant's lease and forged new dates and names to make it look like he had arranged a ten year deal with the Landlord beforehand.

One for the next novel.

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