Two Quebec real estate brokers have had their licenses suspended two months after they were accused of submitting bogus offers on homes.
The body that governs the real estate industry, the Organism d’autoréglementation du courtage immobilier du Québec (OACIQ), said Thursday it had to revoke the licenses of Christine Girouard and her spouse, Jonathan Dauphinais-Fortin, to protect the public.
The OACIQ said in a news release it had “enough evidence to show that Christine Girouard and Jonathan Dauphinais-Fortin set up a fraudulent scheme to encourage buyers to enhance their initial promise to purchase, notably by submitting a bogus promise to purchase to sellers.”
Re/MAX cut ties with Girouard and Dauphinais-Fortin after a report by La Presse alleging that they had friends and family members submitting fake offers on homes they were selling to create a sense of competition among legitimate buyers to drive up prices.
Girouard was one of the stars of the reality TV series “Numero 1.”
On Thursday, the OACIQ said a provisional suspension was an “exceptional measure” and that the “protection of the public would be compromised” if they were allowed to continue working in real estate. Both are barred from soliciting clients and showing properties until a final decision is rendered by the discipline committee.
They could face sanctions up to and including a permanent suspension.
“The protection of the public and the seriousness of the alleged offenses dictated urgent action, and we are pleased that the Discipline Committee has sided with the Syndic’s arguments,” said Caroline Champagne, the OACIQ’s vice-president of enforcement of practices, Thursday.
Champagne said consumers who believe they were affected by “fraudulent tactics” by any broker can file a claim with the Real Estate Indemnity Fund.
Discipline hearings for Girouard and Dauphinais-Fortin are scheduled to begin Sept. 25.