Money

By, Carla Hindman,

From wedding showers to engagement parties to wedding ceremonies, the cost of celebrating the couple-to-be can put a strain on your budget during the summer wedding season. According to WeddingBells Canada, weddings are a $5-billion business in Canada, with more than 160,000 weddings taking place every year and 67% of weddings occurring between June and September.

Are weddings also a financial burden for guests? For a few years in my late twenties, it seemed like as soon as summer hit, I was spending every weekend at a wedding, and spending all my dollars while I was at it! Though I loved celebrating with my friends, between travel and gifts, the pressure from all the partying was putting a strain on my bank account. If you’re heading to a few weddings this summer, here are some tips to get you through the season without paying the high cost of love:

Build a budget: Before wedding season, take inventory of upcoming weddings and build a budget based on your current financial situation. Do you have wiggle room for the extra dollars you may need to fork out on expenses beyond the main event? If not, consider making adjustments to your spending habits leading up to wedding season. Need help building a budget? Practical Money Skills has a calculator that can help you build or even rework a budget.

Wedding Attire:  Want to look your best on someone else’s big day? It’ll cost you. RetailMeNot says that Wedding guests spend an average of $325 for wedding attire, with men outspending women (men spend an average of $334). Don’t be afraid to recycle your outfits. For men, simply changing a shirt and tie combo can make for a quick and less costly new look. Women can save by exploring dress rental stores with options that will keep them on trend. Another option is to stick with a classic little black dress, but switch up accessories for a different look. If you really want to wear something new, you can make a little extra cash by selling your old suits and dresses at a consignment shop or online. Also, be on the lookout for buy, trade and sell groups on social media sites – often they have gently used attire that could help you celebrate in style.

Wedding Gifts: Wedding gifts can also take a big slice out of your budget. According to the RetailMeNot survey, 54 per cent of Canadians prefer to give cash. But cash is not always king for your budget. Consider bringing together a group to pitch in for a big-ticket item and don’t forget to look for sales while shopping the gift registry. Giving the newlyweds an experience, like a cooking class or a honeymoon excursion, is also a great idea for a present. Most of all be thoughtful. If your friends have invited you to share their day, hopefully they’ll be more thrilled with your presence than your present!

Travel expenses: Travelling to and from a wedding can be costly. If possible, travel with a group to cut down on fuel and hotel costs. Heading to a destination wedding? A WeddingBells survey estimates that one in four weddings that occur between November and April will be destination weddings. Explore using your rewards or loyalty points on airfare and hotel costs.

Bottom Line: Weddings are expensive, even if you’re not the one walking down the aisle. With planning and budgeting you can enjoy wedding season without breaking the bank.

By, Carla Hindman, Director of Financial Education, Visa Canada

http://www.practicalmoneyskills.ca

Ayaz Dhanani shown on the Facebook

BY BETHANY LINDSAY

Vancouver sun

Ayaz Dhanani, shown here in a Facebook photo, is in court this week to face criminal charges of fraud and theft, and is also facing fraud allegations from the B.C. Securities Commission. Dhanani says he is not guilty and the cases against him are without merit.

Ayaz Dhanani, shown here in a Facebook photo, is in court this week to face criminal charges of fraud and theft, and is also facing fraud allegations from the B.C. Securities Commission. Dhanani says he is not guilty and the cases against him are without merit. PHOTO BY FACEBOOK PHOTO

A Vancouver man who defrauded investors with promises of lucrative returns from imaginary companies has been permanently banned from B.C.’s capital markets and fined $225,000.

Ayaz Dhanani bilked three people out of $188,800 in a scheme involving stocks in gold-mining and oil companies. None of the firms or stocks were real, and the B.C. Securities Commission ordered Dhanani last week to pay back the ill-gotten funds, end all involvement in the securities market, and pay a hefty administrative penalty.

“The respondent’s misconduct is an egregious form of fraud,” the BCSC panel wrote in its decision. “It was all a sham. There is no evidence that there ever were any real investments contemplated by the respondent. The respondent simply pocketed the funds obtained from the investors and used them for the personal expenses of himself and his family.”

The gravity of the scam was particularly intense because of the lies Dhanani told, including the use of aliases, according to the decision. The fraudster is known to use at least six aliases.

One victim told a BCSC hearing that he was just 21 when he lost $55,000 in the scam, money he had saved from summer jobs and birthday gifts. Another said he was “in a desperate state” when he handed over $120,000.

Money from two of the investors ended up in a bank account belonging to Dhanani’s father. So far, none of the victims have been paid back, and despite a freeze order on one account, it’s not clear when or if Dhanani will have enough money to reimburse them.

Dhanani also has a history of criminal convictions for fraud. He is currently in jail facing numerous charges including theft, assault, kidnapping, identity theft and fraud.

 

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Ivanka Trump speaks during the grand opening of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016.

Danielle Paquette, Washington Post

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign hasn’t exactly enhanced his brand. Over the last year, bookings for Trump hotels in New York, Las Vegas and Chicago plummeted 58 per cent. Foot traffic to Trump properties fell 17 per cent year-over-year in March, April and June. The National Hispanic Media Coalition asked businesses in July to cut ties with the Republican presidential nominee. Protesters cried boycott outside the Wednesday grand opening of the new Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

But his eldest daughter’s retail ventures appeared to dodge the ire – until the conversation shifted to his treatment of women. Now thousands of social media users are urging others to avoid stores that carry her namesake goods. Even some shoppers who haven’t seen the hashtags – #GrabYourWallet, #BoycottIvanka – say they’re spurning her office-wear.

 “I just don’t want that name in my closet,” explained 31-year-old graphic designer Jessie Newman, as she shopped at T.J. Maxx in Washington, D.C.

Ivanka Trump, 34, has painted herself a champion of bread-winning mothers and harnessed Trump’s White House bid to buoy that image. As she rallied to close the gender pay gap during her speech at the Republican National Convention in July, she sported one of her own designs, a $157 pink dress. The next morning, she linked to the look on Twitter.

This pairing of business and politics seemed to initially pay off. Google searches for her clothing brand spiked in the hours after her RNC debut and soared again following a September stump speech, in which she helped unveil the GOP nominee’s child-care plan.

Then the Washington Post published a 2005 tape on Oct. 7, showing Trump bragging about kissing and grabbing women without their permission. Ivanka continued to support her dad after the White House labeled such behaviour sexual assault, after 11 women accused the candidate of making unwanted advances on them, and after Trump suggested the accusers weren’t attractive enough for him to pursue.

“My father’s comments were clearly inappropriate and offensive,” she said of the 2005 tape in an interview with Fast Company magazine, “and I’m glad that he acknowledged this fact with an immediate apology to my family and the American people .”

That wasn’t good enough for Shannon Coulter, 45, who runs a marketing firm near San Francisco. A male boss had groped her once. Trump’s remarks reminded her of the pain.

“She puts women’s empowerment at the centre of her brand,” she said, “and is still campaigning for someone who is an alleged serial assaulter.”Coulter shared her thoughts with the Internet, and they sparked a trend that, by Wednesday, had reached the feeds of more than two million Twitter accounts: Boycott Ivanka.

Ivanka Trump clothing generated roughly $100 million in revenue last fiscal year, according to G-III, the contractor that produces her apparel. It’s too early to tell if the web call to reject her goods has hit her bottom line.

Surveys suggest consumers have mixed feelings. A Brand Keys survey of 950 millennial woman, taken a week after the 2005 video was released, found that 51 per cent of respondents were “extremely” or “very” willing to buy her office-wear.

Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images)

Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images)Donald Trump and Ivanka

“Ivanka’s brand does not appear to have suffered the same fate as her father’s,” said Brand Keys President Robert Passikoff in a written statement. “There may be an ‘I Hate All Things Trump’ backlash going on at the moment, but as it regards Ivanka, we’re estimating that it will be relatively small and short-term.”

But in a national survey of 1,983 voters, conducted last week by polling firm Morning Consult, 57 per cent of women said they would not purchase clothing from Ivanka’s namesake line, while less than a quarter said they would. The mogul’s presidential run made 35 per cent of the survey respondents “much less likely” to buy or use a Trump-related product. Another 4 per cent are “somewhat less likely.”

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty ImagesIvanka Trump attends Ivanka Trump Fragrance Launch at Macy’s Herald Square on February 19, 2013 in New York City

Seventeen per cent, meanwhile, said they are “much more” or “somewhat more” likely to buy or use Trump products in light of the campaign.

That does not bode well for Ivanka’s clothing line.

“Brands are affected by what they’re associated with,” said marketing strategist Karen Leland, author of “The Brand Mapping Strategy, “And most people who shop for women’s clothing are women.”

Some shoppers, she said, appear to be associating Trump with casual disrespect toward women. Leland recalls shopping recently with a friend in New York who snatched a blouse out of her hand. “I didn’t realize what I was holding,” she said, “but my friend say, ‘That’s Ivanka. You’re not allowed to buy that.”

On Wednesday afternoon, three blocks from Trump’s new hotel in the nation’s capital, Candace Steele, 34, browsed through blouses at T.J. Maxx. She touched a black Ivanka Trump top with white butterflies, on sale for $19.99.

“I just can’t do it,” she said. “I can’t bring myself to buy it.”

Steele, who identifies as Republican and an undecided voter, saw nothing wrong with the shirt itself. She doesn’t dislike Ivanka, either.

“I know she can’t control her dad but. . .” she trailed off. “Ivanka’s in a hard position.”

Prime Minister Modi, President Obama

India and the U.S. Export-Import Bank intend to work together toward a competitive financing package.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday welcomed the start of preparatory work on six nuclear reactors in India, a key step in closing the first deal stemming from a U.S.-India civil nuclear accord struck over a decade ago.
The two leaders said in a joint statement that India and the U.S. Export-Import Bank intend to work together toward a competitive financing package for the project and will work to finalize contractual agreements by June 2017.
“Once completed, the project would be among the largest of its kind, fulfilling the promise of the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement and demonstrating a shared commitment to meet India’s growing energy needs while reducing reliance on fossil fuels,” the joint statement said.
Mr. Obama said he and Mr. Modi discussed how to ensure a worldwide agreement forged in Paris to curb climate change could be enacted swiftly.
“We discussed how we can, as quickly as possible, bring the Paris agreement into force,” Mr. Obama told reporters .

The Hindu.com

MLA-Stephanie-Cadieux-MLA-for-Surrey-Cloverdale

SURREY – Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society has received $500,000 from the provincial government to create 75 child care spaces in their new state-of-the-art long term care home PICS Diversity Village that will be built in Cloverdale soon. MLA Stephanie Cadieux, MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale has announced that PICS is one of six Surrey organizations to receive funding from the Provincial Government. As part of Child-Care Month in British Columbia the government is investing $1.22 million under the B.C. Early Years Strategy to create 280 new licensed child-care spaces at these facilities for families in Surrey. Thanking the provincial government, PICS CEO Charan Gill said, “I am extremely pleased to note that this grant will give the much needed boost to the social-infrastructure needs of families in Surrey’s fastest growing communities in the province. We have been advocating for affordable childcare spaces for a long time and we are very happy that the government is listening,” he said. Welcoming this grant Devinder Chattha, Director of Language Studies, Settlement & Social Programs said, “Every month hundreds of new families move to Cloverdale, which until now was underserved as far as affordable and quality child care is concerned and therefore creating 75 additional spaces here at PICS brand new facility will certainly be a boon to families in the area.” “We thank MLA Cadieux for choosing PICS to offer quality and affordable child care in the area,” she said. MLA Stephanie Cadieux said, “There are more than 300 babies born in Surrey every month. That coupled with approximately 800 people moving into our community every 30 days makes Surrey the fastest growing city in B.C”, said Surrey Cloverdale MLA Stephanie Cadieux. “Access to quality licensed child care is fundamental to what helps make Surrey a desired community to call home for many.” PICS has already acquired two acres of land for PICS Diversity Village, a 140 bed culturally appropriate complex care home for seniors in Cloverdale. PICS has widespread support from all levels of government, especially the provincial government. “This funding is a strong indicator that with the rapidly changing demographics, the provincial government realizes the importance of developing social-infrastructure projects. We hope that the government continues to support PICS as we surge towards building PICS Diversity Village, the next big infrastructure project in Cloverdale,” said Mr. Gill. For more information or interviews please call Shruti Prakash-J

SARAH SKIDMORE SELL, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Candice Kashani graduated from law school debt-free this spring, thanks to a modern twist on an age-old arrangement.

During her first year, she faced tuition and expenses that ran nearly $50,000, even after a scholarship. So she decided to check out a dating website that connected women looking for financial help with men willing to provide it, in exchange for companionship and sex — a “sugar daddy” relationship as they are known.

Now, almost three years and several sugar daddies later, Kashani is set to graduate from Villanova University free and clear, while some of her peers are burdened with six-digit debts.

As the cost of tuition and rent rises, so does the apparent popularity of such sites among students. But are they really providing financial relief, or signing women up for something more exploitative and dangerous than debt?

Kashani believes such sites are a “great resource” for young women, but others say these arrangements smack of prostitution and take advantage of women in a vulnerable situation.

Lynn Comella, an associate professor of gender and sexuality studies at University of Nevada Las Vegas, said that it is not unusual for students to turn to sex work such as stripping, prostitution or webcam work to pay for school. But the sugar daddy sites are relatively new, and she says not entirely upfront about what they are really about.

These arrangements are more vague than prostitution— there is an expectation of material benefit but it is not always specified and sex is not guaranteed.

Ron Weitzer, a professor of sociology at George Washington University and criminologist with an expertise in the sex industry describes it as “prostitution light.”

“Sugar Daddy” arrangements have existed for ages, and it’s unclear if they are becoming more common because the phenomenon is not well studied. But experts say at the very least the internet has made these transactions far easier to arrange and negotiate. “It allows you to hone in on what you want,” said Kevin Lewis, an assistant professor of sociology at University of California San Diego who studies online dating. “You could argue it is just making the market more efficient.”

Kashani says she sifted through many potential suitors before finding one she clicked with. She says she considers her sugar daddy one of her best friends and that they care deeply for each other.

“The people who have a stigma, or associate a negative connotation with it, don’t understand how it works,” she says.

But unlike most relationships, she is paid a sizeable monthly allowance that helps her pay for school.

U.S. undergraduate students last year finished school with an average of $35,000 in student debt — a figure that has risen steadily every year, according to Mark Kantrowitz, a financial aid expert. The average graduate debt load is $75,000, and some longer programs force students into much deeper debt.

Many students say their loans don’t cover the cost of living, and with rent skyrocketing in most major cities, they are left scrambling to make up the difference.

One graduate student at Columbia University in New York had a scholarship that covered almost all of her tuition, but not her living expenses. She spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the potential impact on her job prospects. She tried to make do — sharing a room with a classmate and working a minimum wage job, plus any freelance work she could get. But still she struggled to pay her rent and utilities, and her grades suffered.

“That’s just not why I am here,” she said. “I wanted to find the most amount of money I could make for the least amount of effort.”

So she found herself surfing Craigslist and Backpage.com and later, SeekingArrangement.com, the largest of the sugar daddy websites. Now she has two sugar daddies, one she sees occasionally and another who is more like a conventional boyfriend, except that he pays her a monthly allowance and helps rent her an apartment closer to him.

SeekingArrangement.com said it is most popular in Los Angeles and New York. The average rent in both areas is well over $2,000 a month, according to Zillow research.

The Columbia student says she plans to continue “sugaring” after she graduates to buy herself time to find a more traditional job and remain officially unemployed so she can defer repaying the roughly $70,000 in loans she had already racked up.

“There is a lot of moral panic about it,” she said. “But what are the real estate and academic funding situations that led to this?”

Brandon Wade, creator of the site, touts it as an “alternative to financial aid” but says the company did not set out to target students when it launched in 2006. It stumbled on this niche and began in 2011 offering students a free premium membership, which usually costs $30 a month. It charges sugar daddies $70 to $180 a month, depending on the membership level.

Seekingarrangement.com also offers to connect same-sex couples looking for such arrangements, or “sugar mommies” for men. But the male-female “sugar daddy” dynamic makes up the bulk of its business.

It’s difficult to pin down exactly how many students are involved in such situations, because they are private transactions. And it’s a niche rarely studied by academics.

SeekingArrangement.com says student users on the site jumped from 79,400 worldwide in 2010 to 1.9 million this year and students make up one-third of its users. And while it sees thousands of signups on any given day, the company says enrolment jumps during August and January when tuition is typically due, sometimes to more than double its normal levels.

Women who have used the site report experiences that run the gamut — from respectful chaste dates all the way to aggressive solicitation online, even though it is forbidden on the site. Sex is not guaranteed although most users say it is implied. The company says a few arrangements have even led to marriage, although it is rare.

Some of the women say they feel respected and cared for, but remain aware that it is an arrangement, not traditional romantic love.

“It benefits me in many ways — we have a healthy relationship, we travel together, I’m able to enjoy the city more,” said the New York graduate student.

Still, she said, it is a job.

“It does kind of rub me the wrong way that some people don’t see it as sex work,” she said.

Comella warns that unlike sex workers, many women doing this put their true identities online, and that could put them at risk. While Seeking Arrangement runs background checks, there have been reports of violence against both men and women stemming from sugar daddy websites.

Kristen Houser of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center says that violence is common any time money is exchanged for sex. “You need to pay attention that there is a power imbalance,” she said.

Wade says there are risks inherent in any dating website. He should know; he runs several, including one that allows users to bid on dates and another focused on open relationships. He said he created SeekingArrangement.com out of his own frustration with women. An MIT graduate, he had difficulty meeting women and realized a site such as this would highlight what set him apart — money.

“Money and sex are things that people want,” he said. “I think the controversy comes into play on seeking arrangement because we are so upfront about it.”

Concordia University has named an atrium in the John Molson School of Business building after Hardeep (Hardy) Grewal and his wife. (CBC)

Son of Indian farmers came to Canada with $7, former cabbie now owns 2,100 fast-food franchises

By Roberto Rocha, CBC News

Hardeep Singh Grewal, the son of Punjabi sugar-cane farmers, came to Canada from India in 1972 with $7 in his pocket.

Fast-forward 44 years, and the entrepreneur owns 2,100 Subway restaurant franchises in Ontario and the U.S.

Grewal now lives in California, but he stopped by Montreal to revisit his former home — and to donate $1 million to Concordia University to endow MBA scholarships at the John Molson School of Business.

“I achieved with hard work what I wanted to accomplish: my parents’ dream to get an education,” Grewal said at a ceremony at the university Monday.

In recognition for the gift, Concordia has renamed the atrium in the business school in his and his wife’s honour: It is to be called the Hardeep (Hardy) Singh Grewal and Patwant Kaur Grewal Atrium.

Grewal hopes he will inspire future entrepreneurs to work hard and achieve their goals.

“Just have a great work ethic,” Grewal said, when asked what advice he’d give students.

“Work hard, and you’ll get anywhere.”

Working all the time

To make ends meet while attending classes, Grewal worked several jobs, including driving a taxi at night.

“I was working part-time all the time. Wherever I could find a job, I made it happen,” he said.

Hoping to start a new life in California, Grewal and his brother pooled together all the money they had and bought a Subway franchise in Sylmar, a neighbourhood in Los Angeles.

He left his wife in charge of the restaurant, while he worked a job in finance.

“It was a simple business where you don’t have to cook. Just make money and deposit it in the bank,” he said.

But when he saw that the Subway was making more money than his main job, Grewal knew he was sitting on an opportunity. So he started buying more franchises and didn’t stop.

Today, he’s Subway’s master developer in southern Ontario, operating 260 stores in the region.

Along with hard work, he credits education for his success.

“My family was always talking about education. That was my motivation,” he said. “Nobody can take that away from you.”

Surrey, BC. Surrey Libraries is pleased to launch its Strategic Plan for 2016 – 2018. The Library Board presented the Plan to Mayor and Council at the Council meeting on May 2. The Plan is a culmination of a yearlong process incorporating community, stakeholder and staff input.

“Libraries continue to serve an important role in the community. Long respected in their traditional roles, libraries are now emerging as dynamic platforms, offering improved access to technology and sparking innovation that will, in turn, help to transform the communities they serve,” said Library Board Chair Upkar Tatlay. “The library is at the forefront of addressing the digital literacy needs of our residents,  ensuring that everyone has access to technology and the required technical skills that are driving change in our schools, workplaces and homes. “

“Board and staff alike are proud of the accomplishments of the past few years,” says Melanie Houlden, Chief Librarian.  “We have seen a gradual shift in services as people adopt electronic formats such as e-books.  With a focus on excellent service, we will engage with the community to inspire creativity and innovation.”

Some key initiatives planned for the future include:

A brand new website to engage better with Surrey residents

  • An action plan for serving children and families
  • Expanded software and tools to support digital learning

 

The full plan can be viewed at the library website www.surreylibraries.ca

According to the Real Estate Council of B.C., Ryan Rana admitted that someone else wrote the real estate licensing exam for him. (Ryan Rana Personal Real Estate Corporation)

Man who allegedly wrote licensing exam for Ryan Rana revealed; Rana on leave as ‘special constable’

By Jason Proctor, CBC News

A bizarre B.C. real estate scandal has widened with the suspension of the mortgage broker who allegedly posed as Langley realtor Ryan Rana for his licensing exam.

And the CBC has also learned that as a result of the allegations, Rana has been placed on administrative leave from his other job — as a provincial special constable at B.C.’s Forensic Psychiatric Hospital.

Ted Aulak aka Ryan Rana?

B.C.’s registrar of mortgage brokers suspended the registration of Indeep Singh Aulak after being contacted about the situation by the real estate council. Aulak’s professional name is Ted.

The council claims Rana admitted to sending someone else to write the Real Estate Trading Services exam in his place last December.

Ryan Rana was licensed as a realtor in February after an imposter passed his licensing exam with a score of 90 per cent. (Twitter)

According to an order posted on the Financial Institutions Commission website, investigators matched Aulak to photographs of the person who purported to be Rana for the purposes of writing the test.

​The allegations come amidst wider concerns about regulation of the real estate industry in British Columbia. A number of scandals have emerged in recent months involving the actions of unscrupulous realtors driven by greed to cash in on the province’s white hot market.

A panel of experts is currently considering, among other things, whether or not the industry should continue to be self-regulated.

Guarding the mentally ill

An archived copy of Rana’s website describes the 25-year-old as having a “background in community law enforcement and public health care.”

It turns out that he is a special constable at the Coquitlam Forensic Psychiatric Hospital which houses people who have been declared not criminally responsible for offences because of mental disorders.

Perhaps the facility’s most notorious patient is Allan Schoenborn, a father who killed his three children in 2008. Controversy has surrounded the decision to allow him escorted outings into the community.

Special constables like Rana would be tasked with ensuring the security of patients and the public during the course of those outings.

A spokesperson with the Provincial Health Services Authority says Rana has been placed on leave with pay pending the outcome of the real estate council’s regulatory process.

Referred to lawyer or notary for identity affidavit

Aulak’s suspension order provides new details about the investigation into the impersonation.

The Sauder School of Business at the University of B.C. administers the licensing exams for both realtors and mortgage brokers. In order to take the test, candidates have to provide a form which includes a passport photo.

They also have to present other photo identification on the day of the exam.

The first time someone claiming to be Rana attempted to take the test last November, they were turned away because their appearance didn’t match a driver’s licence photograph.

The Sauder School of Business at UBC administers the licensing exams for both realtors and mortgage brokers.

“He was referred to a lawyer or a notary to get further assurance regarding his identity,” the order says.

“The person who identified as Mr. Rana then provided Sauder with an affidavit.”

A ‘Ryan Rana’ was then allowed to write the multiple choice exam in December and passed with a mark of 90 per cent.

According to the order, the passport photo submitted along with Aulak’s exam shows him with a full beard and turban. The one attached to Rana’s exam is clean shaven.

‘The two photos were a likely match’

The allegations came to light when someone contacted the real estate council to say the person pictured on Rana’s website was not the same person who wrote his licensing exam.

“The council advised that they conducted social media searches of Mr. Rana, and found that Mr. Aulak and Mr. Rana are friends on a social media website. The social media website depicted photos of Mr. Aulak,” the order says.

“The council also engaged a private investigator who compared the social media photos to the Rana affidavit using photo matching software. The investigator determined that the two photos were a likely match.”

Investigators also spoke to a Surrey photo studio proprietor who took the passport photo attached to Rana’s real estate exam ticket. He provided a matching picture — “commissioned by a person with the last name of ‘Aulakh’.”

Rana received his real estate licence in February and Aulak was licensed as a mortgage broker in early April. According to the order, Rana’s website refers to Aulak as a mortgage specialist.

Rana was also advertising a listing for a Surrey property owned by Aulak.

Both are suspended pending full disciplinary hearings of the allegations. Neither man could be reached for comment.

POLLY MOSENDZ, WASHINGTON POST

 

Parents are accustomed to being treated like human cash machines during prom season, spending close to $1,000 to guarantee that a high school dance doesn’t become an emotional catastrophe.

A hundred bucks for tickets, and hundreds more for fancy clothes-even the corsage costs $20. And before any of that begins, your kid wants $300 for a promposal. Wait, a what?

A promposal is an elaborate invitation to the prom – a concept that first gained Web traction in 2011 and now is an institution alongside limo rentals and after parties. Asking someone to the prom has been tradition for as long as there have been school dances. But the concept of promposing took on new life in the digital era. Teens now plot grandiose events to gain the attention not only of their potential date, but of everyone else on social media, in turn generating YouTube channels, Twitter , and, of course, listicles.

Students lucky enough to experience a promposal are sometimes on the receiving end of an outrageous, and often complex, feat of planning. One promposal that went viral involved the purchase of Kanye West’s popular sneaker, the Boost. Another promposal, less expensive but much more difficult to pull off, involved Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz reading on behalf of a teenager.

For the rest, it can be expensive cosmetics, Beyoncé tickets, or even a puppy. One thing they all have in common is that parents are picking up some, or all, of the tab.

Predictably, brands have gotten in on the action, looking to capitalize further on the already expensive event. National Promposal Day, March 11, was registered this year by Men’s Wearhouse Inc., which rents tuxedos for the occasion. A branded social media campaign about the day reached more than 2 million Facebook and Instagram users, and a promposal-themed SnapChat filter, made available to students at more than 18,000 American high schools, was used almost a million times.

It’s unclear how many teens ended up with dates that day, but Men’s Wearhouse is hoping it’ll lead to a boost in sales and rentals. Not to be outdone, prom dress retailers are latching onto the phenomenon in store and posting about promposals on company blogs. “We know our customers are receiving proposals, and they like reading about them,” explained Devin VanderMaas, director of marketing for Faviana, a special occasion dress retailer in New York City. “It’s also one of the more searched keywords right now. Girls who are most likely going to buy our dress are also Googling promposal stories. That’s another way for us to find new people and have them discover our brand.”

Golden Asp, a prom dress retailer in Pennsylvania, also published several promposal-themed blog posts, including the “Ultimate Promposal Guide.” Owner Jon Liney says he often hears tales of promposals from his staff and customers: “When you see a trend like this, that just adds to the significance of prom; it has to help sales.”

You know something has arrived in the teen consciousness when credit card companies take notice. Visa, which tracks prom-related expenses in an annual nationwide survey, added promposal costs to the total prom bill for the first time last year. The company found the average American household with teenagers spent $324 on promposing. Promposal spending varies around the country: New England families with teenagers come in at $431 per promposal, compared with $342 in the West, $305 in the South and $218 in the Midwest. Promposals are so prolific that they’re becoming the most expensive part of the event.

Total spending on the prom, which includes the cost of clothing, transportation, tickets, food, photographs, and the after party, is down since 2013, when it was $1,139, according to Visa. In 2014, it fell to $978 and again last year by 6 percent, to $919.

Conventional wisdom would assume wealthier families spend more on proms, and promposals, but Visa found families making less than $25,000 per year spend $1,393 on proms, compared with families that earn more than $50,000 spending just $799. Visa referred to the finding as “disconcerting,” but the study didn’t explain why this might be the case. In fact, low-income families are often encouraged to turn to charitable organizations, such as Operation Prom, for free prom dresses and tuxedos. The New York nonprofit is considering expanding those services to include promposals.

“We’ve thought about these promposals over the past two years as they’ve increasingly gotten popular,” said Operation Prom founder Noel D’Allacco. She’s working on making her organization part of the process, considering whether to encourage wealthier students to use her organization for their promposal and in the process help fund prom expenses for those less well-off. “We’ve been trying to get creative for what we can do to help that promposal come true.”

At the other end of the spectrum, getting a professional to plan a promposal is an extra chunk of change. Sarah Glick, a proposal planner at New York City’s Brilliant Event Planning, charges $495 for a concept design and a minimum $2,500 for executing the promposal. The company has been approached about a dozen times to plan a promposal, but the clients chose not to go ahead due to the price. The Heart Bandits, a Los Angeles proposal planning firm that charges $1,000 for promposal services, has received about 30 inquires about promposals and planned at least five, according to founder Michele Velazquez.

Teens have no incentive to cut cost with parents still subsidizing this much of the total prom spending

Despite the growing trend, not all teenagers are wooed by pricey promposals. “I’ve seen on Twitter where boyfriends buy their girlfriends hundreds of dollars worth of makeup to ask them, which I think is ridiculous,” said Meghan, 16, from Pueblo, Colo., whose parents requested that she be identified only by her first name. “People buy their girlfriends fishes, and puppies, and clothes, all kinds of stuff. It’s crazy.” Meghan was promposed to more simply: Her date purchased a Starbucks coffee and wrote ‘Prom?’ on the side and carried a poster reading ‘This is hard to espresso … but I’ll take a shot.’

With promposals on the upswing, parents find themselves more willing to foot the bill: In 2014, parents surveyed by Visa said they were planning to pay for 56 percent of prom costs. The next year, parents upped the amount to 73 percent. “Teens have no incentive to cut cost with parents still subsidizing this much of the total prom spending,” Visa determined. At the Heart Bandits, parents normally pay, but the teenager goes through the planning process with Velazquez’s team, filling out a questionnaire about the prospective date.

As for teenagers wooed with puppies, Beyonce ticks and more, planner Glick expects the trend will affect the traditional proposal market in the coming years. “It sets the bar so high for these girls. Where are they going to go from here for their own marriage proposal?”

Apparently, paying $4,000 for an engagement ring won’t be enough anymore.