The Back Story of Our Investigative Journalism
Why we are protecting seniors from the loan sharks at Verico the Mortgage Station
On Thursday, June 29, we released through Facebook the video entitled “Fraud Warning For Seniors In Simcoe County!” and then we posted it on our website. The result was much better than we had expected for the beginning of a long weekend. This was the fourth story and video we have published about Verico the Mortgage Station this year, plus the three we shared a year ago. So far, none of the brokers of Verico the Mortgage Station have taken any action to prevent us from publishing these factual reports, and none has shown the courage to step up and tell us their side of the story on camera.
We were also asked by a reader who claims to work in the mortgage industry
'why is no other local media outlet covering this story,
and why are the brokers so clearly hiding?'
The main reason we are covering this story is that there is a need. We live in a world of greed and influence where wealthy people own law enforcement and politicians. This is more acute now than at any time in the past century or more. Our society is regressing to less enlightened times and reverting to a standard when normal working people have no rights and there is nobody to turn to for help when they are defrauded, or their rights are abused. At this point, hiding seems the only option for the brokers at Verico the Mortgage Station, as due to their own actions and their lack of ability to deal with the situation they are spiralling downward at a phenomenal rate, and it is likely that they don't even see it happening.
Our producer served this country in uniform, and as an international journalist he saw autrocities and abuses of power in other countries that cannot be permitted to become standard operating practice here.
A business that is provincially regulated, and which works on trust, cannot be free to commit financial crimes like usury (loansharking) without being considered a risk to the many hundreds of seniors to whom they are providing CHIP Reverse Mortgages being offered by the HomeEquity Bank. It is also very concerning that the detective from the South Simcoe Police Service was so quickly and fully willing to just let this matter drop and was brazenly obvious in his willingness to simply ignore the evidence provided; going so far as to not even contact me, the complainant, to clarify details or to attain new evidence. The only reason the Inspector recanted his negative bolster and called in the Financial Investigator is that we went public, and we threw this transparent abuse of trust and either incompetence or influence peddling directly onto the plates of the mayor and members of Innisfil Town Council.
They also know that given our hard-earned reputation for fighting through corruption, influence, and intimidation (a full list is just below the video), we are not going anywhere but forward.
Five Points Media is a non-profit-motivated social enterprise that works as the production division of the Ontario Community Awareness Network, a registered not-for-profit. Since 2014, our crew has produced more than 300 community videos free of charge for more than 180 local charities, not-for-profits, and benevolent community groups. We do not have advertisers, nor do we receive funding from the government. To take either would weaken our ability to tell the truth and be truly independent. In 2020 our team was nominated and voted to finalist status for the award for altruism that is presented each year by the Greater Barrie Chamber of Commerce and the City of Barrie.
The value of our fully donated productions exceeds $600,000.00.
Our Producer, John Ironside, is an internationally experienced journalist who has worked in both print and video. He worked as the Deputy Editor and photojournalist for a national European newspaper that was owned by the Washington Times. He was also a videographer working behind the lines for the British equivalent of CNN in warzones like Bosnia during their civil war and in the Middle East during the first Gulf War. In addition, he worked as a documentary producer for groups in Europe including Greenpeace, and has about 5000 production credits from all over the world.
We also own and operate Barrie's only fully independent video and media studios that are designed to accomodate the needs of those same charities, not-for-profits, and benevolent community groups.
There have been multiple attempts to silence our investigative documentaries through abuses of the authority of the police or by filing frivolous and unsupported lawsuits. Regardless, no member of our crew has ever been convicted of any crime nor have we been successfully sued for any form of libel or defamation. That is because we are telling the truth and we can back our claims with evidence, regardless of who is abusing their authority or that of the police or politicians to silence us. It is only the guilty who resort to such tactics to evade responsibility for their actions, rather than step up and explain themselves.
We have offered every subject of every documentary we have produced the opportunity to explain their actions, but none of them has found the courage, choosing instead to hide behind lawyers or privilege.
CTV is currently applying to the CRTC to be freed from the current obligation that requires them to produce a specific quota of local programming, which usually translates to producing the local news. If that is granted, our city and county will no longer have a local news program but will likely receive only a shared feed from Toronto. At the same time, the Toronto Star is actively negotiating a merger with Postmedia, which will eliminate one of the last true bastions of journalism in our province. Then there is Bill C-18, which will compel online sources like Google and Facebook to pay for Canadian media content. As a result, both online giants are filtering out Canadian media from their feeds.
The key objective of a journalist or documentary film producer is to gather information and present the facts.
The problem today is that journalistic integrity has been replaced by corporate greed, and the media has shifted from fact to manufactured misdirection. They no longer update and influence public opinion, but instead, report only safe subjects that are in line with their political ideology that will not be challenged or falsely claimed to be defamatory. Although scorned by Canadian Courts and Law Societies, large corporations and affluent people have repeatedly hired unscrupulous lawyers to threaten those who are exposing their secret wrongdoings. Then, if threats are not enough, they file one or many unsupportable court claims called “Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation” or a SLAPP lawsuit. This frivolous litigation serves only to threaten potentially expensive litigation that will force the journalist to post a retraction and delete the story. Essentially, they are buying our system of justice at the expense of the rest of our society. John Oliver, the brilliant host of “Last Week Tonight” explained SLAPP lawsuits brilliantly in this comic and informative rant.
Employee Fraud - Abuse of the Criminal Justice System and Civil Courts
Mustang Investigations, a Toronto-based family-owned corporation, filed a SLAPP lawsuit against our producer in 2007 trying to prevent him from exposing how they had defrauded about 800 employees over an eight-year period to the tune of millions of dollars. The fraud was detected by our producer's father, a retired 30-year veteran of the Business Files Unit of the Canada Revenue Agency. The company directors also “motivated” a detective to arrest and charge our producer with multiple made-up offenses that the Crown Attorney later dismissed without consequence after apologizing in court for the transparent abuse of authority. Mustang failed to intimidate the highly experienced international journalist, even though they went so far as to hire Norman Groot, a violent convicted felon and ex-convict turned lawyer. After a 32-month battle, which drew a following of hundreds of thousands of professionals from related fields, the company begged the court to allow them to withdraw their claim, and the truth was exposed accordingly.
Management for Mustang acknowledged in court that they had spent $400,000.00 to hire nine lawyers from three Bay Street law firms. Meanwhile, our producer was self-represented and was supported only by the evidence. Due to the exposure and their arrogance, the company lost every significant legal argument and then they lost everything including their business and some very valuable family-owned real estate in the Beaches of Toronto. Our producer told the story by cross-referencing the evidence that he posted online, which fully supported all of his claims. The company also conceded that they had lost $500,000.00 in income as their client businesses found the fully supported truth and cut all ties to protect their own image. In the end, just before Mustang Investigations went under and yeilded all client files to their primary competitor, the Superior Court Justice who dismissed the claim noted that he hoped his ruling would end “the Internet blood war” that had exposed far too many truths about the legal profession.
Our producer was not a lawyer, and the corporation had the advantage financially.
So, he chose to tell the truth and support it fully with evidence to be seen by the court of public opinion.
This choice is fully supported by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Defrauding Taxpayers - Abuse of the Criminal Justice System
The next online exposé happened in 2012 and involved a local video production company called Digital Video Productions, which produced a magazine and television program called SnowGoer. What started as a story of a simple contract dispute quickly turned into the tale of a local MP helping these producers to allegedly defraud the taxpayers of about $60,000.00. This claim was fully supported and was never challenged. When the story broke, the affluent and influential owners of the company tried and failed four times to solicit help from the Barrie Police Service but were told each time that the issue was civil, not criminal. Then, by their own admission in court documents, the directors turned to their friendly MP and were given the name of a specific detective to ask for. Suddenly, the police jumped in full force to battle the supposed “huge crimes” that required a search warrant to seize the journalist’s computers, and multiple charges were laid in great fanfare, but with little, if any, substance.
This all happened because a journalist told a story that involved affluent people with powerful connections.
The detective tried bullying with threats of up to 30 years in prison, and when our producer refused to sign a “conditional discharge” that demanded he not tell the story, the journalist was thrown in jail in Penetanguishene with the plan being to soften him up. It didn’t work, and over the next 32 months, as our producer pushed the charges to trial where evidence is all that matters, the allegations were whittled down to frivolous threats that proved unsupportable in a court of law as the Crown Attorney dismissed one charge after another, and then the court dismissed all allegations as violations of the journalist’s rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The exposure caused the closure of Digital Video Productions as we were told their advertisers withdrew in their own best interests. The last time we saw the detective, he was in uniform without a sidearm, apparently being ordered by the Chief or somebody in command to personally hand back the evidence he had seized under false pretenses from our producer in service to the politician.
Since then we have worked hard to rebuild our relationship with the Barrie Police Service, and have worked on several projects with both the former Chief Greenwood and the current Chief Johnston.
Political Exposé - Spreading Libel through a Two Times Court Judged Defamatory Libelist and Vexatious Litigant
In 2014, our team at Five Points Media learned that a local Conservative MPP appeared to be working in concert with a two-times court-judged libelist and vexatious litigant who was publishing defamatory libel about an openly gay progressive candidate during a provincial election. We responded by producing a video that presented the evidence of the strategy and the apparently unethical actions of both men that we released the night before the election. The video was seen by more than 4,000 mostly local people as it was shared and liked by hundreds of local voters who had grown tired of these kinds of tactics, and who were repulsed by the level to which local Conservative politicians were sinking in their bid for reelection. The incumbent politician, who was favoured heavily to win, lost the election by about 400 votes, or ten percent of those who saw our video. Eventually, we were able to secure against the libelist an order of vexatious litigant, which prohibits him from filing frivolous legal claims against others, which was another tactic of intimidation. This ruling applied to all litigation, not just the repeated attacks against our producer, and was undertaken as a service to our community.
The politician is now a paralegal, yet he has never taken legal action to delete this seven year old video.
His accused muckraker, a twice judged libelist, tried, but the claim was dismissed by the court.
Threat of Frivolous Legal Claim Against Benevolent Not-For-Profit
In 2019, the owner of a local prominent web design company that was well-connected thought they could bully and threaten our team into taking down a video in which the owners of Tygershark had willingly participated. The owner called our producer first thing in the morning demanding that the video, which had been produced for the Barrie Greater Chamber of Commerce several years earlier, had to be removed immediately. The video was a fluff awards night piece, but the owner had split with his business partner and his needs or whims were apparently all that mattered. Our producer did not decline but said he needed some time.
That, however, was not good enough.
Next, the business owner called with vague threats and haughty indignation, then an email was dispatched by the Chamber at his insistence, and then he paid a lawyer to threaten to sue us for nothing more than not jumping to attention when he demanded it.
Keep in mind, this all happened within four days.
So, we did not take down the video, as enough was enough, and instead we told the truth through an article that remains online today. As a result, the owner was exposed to hundreds of thousands of people for being a petulant child and wannabe bully who was quite willing to abuse the purpose and authority of the courts to satisfy a tantrum, and within a short time Tygershark disappeared. It was certainly never our desire to see this happen, but the evidence presented was all compiled from the actions of the business owner, and the result was of his own creation.
Exposure of Rental Fraud
Later that same year, in October 2019, we learned from an online post that a fake landlord had rented the same apartment to as many as 25 mostly single mothers and then refused to allow any of them to live in the unit. It was a transparent case of massive fraud, but the Barrie Police Service said they could not take action and that the mothers would have to take the issue to the rental board or court. As we listened to one story after another a definite pattern of deliberate fraud developed. The fake landlord had chosen to profile their ad to single mothers as she knew they had a lot going on in life and little time or money to be fighting issues in court or at the tribunal. Also, these mothers would now be scrambling to find a place to live rather than be homeless and lose custody of their children to social services. We exposed the story for all to see, and suddenly, the Barrie Police Service moved in and charged the fake landlord with what we were told was at least 15 counts of fraud. Also, several homeowners who had vacant in-law suites stepped up to help the victims of the fraud.
Exposure of Fraudulent Car Dealership
In 2020, a young woman came to us with the story of being defrauded by a car dealership in Mississauga. We reviewed the documentation and saw that her claims were genuine, so our producer drove to the car lot, camera in hand, while the woman followed and then waited in her car around the corner with her partner. Clearly, the car dealership did not want us to tell the story, as they asked our producer to leave and then threatened him with violence. That did not quite work out for them as when the time was right, he called over the complainant, and her money was very quickly refunded.
In 2021, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we attended illegal public group meetings of anti-maskers to record their claims and later counter them with actual evidence. Our videographers were threatened and crowded while recording, but neither would leave as the story was important. We also exposed the violence associated with these events, and how they were in truth being held despite the risk to the public solely to sell shirts and profit from the ignorance of the paranoid. When we would not stop reporting on the stories, one or more of the radicals chose to drive by our studio and shoot out the windows of our van. This was a cowardly act and we called it out as such, showing their actions as recorded on our 4K surveillance system. Three times they engaged in drive-by shootings in a residential area, and eventually a detective was begrudgingly assigned by the Barrie Police Service. Regardless, despite having what he called “the best surveillance footage he had ever seen” the detective did little more than patronize our concerns for public safety. In the end, it was us calling out the shooter as a coward and presenting our high quality images of him shooting down our driveway that made him stop and run away.
We also humiliated the coward by offering him an invitation to come to our door, with his gun if need be, so we could discuss his issues like rational people.
Slumlord Held Accountable
Later, the slumlord’s lawyer threatened legal action if we did not take down the story, but only after demanding that we not tell anybody about her threat. Our producer’s response is very eye-opening as to why we do what we do. We never heard back from that lawyer or the slumlord ever again, and the article remains online.
City Abuses - Criminalising Homelessness
Most recently, just this past month, our crew worked in conjunction with the David Busby Centre and Ryan’s Hope to challenge new bylaws proposed by Barrie City Council that would make it illegal to be homeless and a criminal offense to be kind.
The bylaws, which proposed to charge fines to anybody who in any way helped an impoverished person, were rushed through in secret by the council who despite promising to consult with experts then tried to rush them through again.
Our videos, which focused on the issues and how to help the afflicted, were watched by tens of thousands of people and helped to educate the public and draw in protesters. In the end, City Council flipped on their previous unanimous position and set aside the proposed new bylaws until a much later date when experts and community service providers could provide advice.
Now, we are reporting on the story of Verico the Mortgage Station, who we say clearly and without any kind of shielding did commit the crime of usury, also known as loansharking. We are telling this story because the brokers of this provincially licensed brokerage deal heavily with seniors seeking out CHIP Reverse Mortgages offered by the HomeEquity Bank.
The games of delay and deflect that these brokers played with regards to our producer’s mortgage are textbook methods of motivating people to take higher cost options because the offer they want is delayed, and delayed, and delayed, and the applicant cannot apply elsewhere for financing without delaying the mortgage further. The brokers set it up as a team to ensure that the applicant has nowhere to go but to them for bridge financing, and then they provide it offered at illegal usury levels of interest. It is also not lost on us that the detective of the South Simcoe Police was very quick and extremely obedient when asked to just ignore all the evidence, and to not even speak with the complainant regarding a file the department had shelved more than a year ago.
It is the job of the media to expose the truth, even and especially when the police are deflected from their duties by outside influences. That is what we are doing here by presenting our evidence in a clear and concise manner to the public who have a right to know about this risk to the finances of their parents, their grandparents, or themselves. Every single time we have exposed the truth of crime in our community the perpetrators have been forced by public pressure to cease and desist in what they are doing to hurt others.
100% of the time, those affluent and influential abusers of the law have not seen the reality coming until it was too late to change their options.
We thank the brokers of Verico the Mortgage Station for their arrogance, and their refusal to stand up and be counted when accused of committing an indictable offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. We also acknowledge the decision by the South Simcoe Police to initially attempt to brush this story under the rug. Public pressure caused by our article forced them to rethink their allegiance, as it is the tax payers who pay their salaries and who choose who it is that runs the Township.
Our story is now attracting interest from mainstream media, and from professionals working within mortgage-related businesses. We are able to tell that our story is being shared now more by email than by any other means, with most people visiting our story's Index Page. On Tuesday we will be distributing a press release to the provincial media who have not as yet found our story, and to all mortgage brokers in Ontario who are not associated with Verico Financial Group Inc.
Please remember to visit our convenient Index Page for the latest updates in this story.