loseup portrait senior man protecting a piggy bank

Amid heightened attention on the issue of senior financial abuse, the New Brunswick Financial and Consumer Services Commission (FCNB) has suspended a pair of real estate salespeople for taking financial advantage of a vulnerable senior.

Tanya Hannah and Maurice Poirier, owners of Moncton, N.B.-based Century 21 Absolute Realty Inc., were found unsuitable to be licensed under the Real Estate Agents Act, the FCNB announced Wednesday.

The pair “took extreme financial advantage” of the senior in a real estate transaction, the regulator says in a news release.

“It is clear that they gained substantially from the transaction, to (the senior’s) detriment,” wrote Alaina Nicholson, acting director of consumer affairs for the FCNB, in the reasons for decision. “He lost his home, his only asset, and was provided with nothing more than a year-and-a-half’s rent.”

A review of their professional conduct found that the pair took “outrageous and egregious advantage” of the senior.

Additionally, the New Brunswick Office of the Public Trustee, which is an agency devoted to protecting the interests of vulnerable citizens, took action against the pair to remove their authority as the client’s power of attorney, executor, trustee and estate beneficiary. The agency has also undertaken a civil action against Hannah.

Poirier has filed a motion to appeal its decision with the Financial and Consumer Services Tribunal, the FCNB notes. The appeal date has yet to be set. Under the FCNB’s ruling, Hannah and Poirier cannot apply to be relicensed for a year, at that point, the regulator would reassess their suitability.

The FCNB published a paper on issues involving the financial exploitation of seniors last year; it plans to release a report later this year setting out reform recommendations.

Last week, the Ontario Securities Commission released its strategy for stepping up the protection of seniors.