Senior loses house in Mexico after trusting scam artist
A senior citizen from Chilliwack, B.C. says she had her vacation home in Mexico stolen out from under her after she was duped into trusting the wrong person.
Laara Kayler, 79, hired a man calling himself Nicolas Machado Rodriguez to take care of her home in the Mexican state of Jalisco when she decided to leave the country in 2006.
Rodriguez disappeared after Kayler signed over power of attorney, and a private investigator discovered that he had sold the home for $250,000 -- money that Kayler never received.
"He didn't do anything but rob me blind," Kayler said.
"The power of attorney was the big problem, because it gave him carte blanche to do anything he wanted to do."
When Kayler decided to leave the home she and her husband had purchased in Las Fuentes 13 years earlier, Rodriguez presented himself as the administrator of a homeowners' group who cared for 17 houses.
"He was going to do minor repairs and pay the bills, this sort of thing," Kayler said.
She went to the Mexican consulate in Vancouver to draw up the power of attorney for Rodriguez.
"I sent it to him express mail, and he was so happy at the other end. It was all in Spanish, so I didn't know what actually the entire power of attorney said -- just the highlights, is what I got," she said.
She says he also told her that Mexican federal police officers were looking for her because she had illegally sold her car before she left the country. Rodriguez said the car was involved in an accident and the wife and daughter of an influential family had been killed.
But there was no such crash, and Kayler believes she was told a lie to keep her away from Mexico.
"He wanted to move into my house and take over, because he said if a Mexican was living in the house, the powers that be wouldn't take my house because of the accident," Kayler said.
"He didn't want me to come back."
After the power of attorney was sorted out, it became more difficult to contact Rodriguez.
And then, Kayler received an email saying that he was dead.
"He was no more. He had died. Now what?" Kayler said.
She hired a private investigator, and discovered that Rodriguez had not only sold her house, he also controlled a number of other properties in the same compound.
"I suspect that somebody else has been taken for a ride like this, too," Kayler said.
Officials at the Mexican consulate in Vancouver refused to discuss Kayler's case, except to say that she knew what she was signing.
Wills and estate lawyer Amy Francis says there should have been explicit conditions in the power of attorney.
"If she felt that she had to give this person the power to undertake financial transactions on her behalf, it would have been open to her to give him very, very specific authority over very, very specific transactions, which might have protected her," Francis said.
"Powers of attorney are very flexible and they are also very dangerous. You are giving up a lot when you give somebody else the power to stand in your shoes."
Kayler has filed a civil lawsuit against Rodriguez in a Mexican court, hoping to get her money back, and says she'll never go back to Mexico.
Watch CTV News at Six for a report from Lisa Rossington