Insurance claim money at the heart of real estate agent scam
1 February 2018
A Gold Coast real estate agent was ordered to pay $14,364 in fines and compensation in the Southport Magistrates Court yesterday (31 January 2018), following an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
Neil Hart, director of Wealthbuilt Realty in Molendinar, was fined $10,000, and ordered to pay $4,364 in witness and court costs after failing to organise repairs to two rental properties, despite collecting payments for them to be undertaken.
The OFT investigation revealed discrepancies between quotes obtained by the real estate agent for repairs to the properties, the amounts paid by insurance companies against those quotes, and then finally the amounts paid to tradespeople to conduct the repairs.
The OFT also established the deceptions relied on the agent creating and supplying a fake invoice and on failing to deposit repair money into the agency’s trust account.
In sentencing, the court considered Mr Hart’s guilty plea and previously unblemished record.
Fair Trading Acting Executive Director Craig Turner said real estate agents are in a position of trust and have no right producing false documents.
“Consumers have the right to expect that all paperwork received for transactions are accurate; they are not a tool for manipulation,” Mr Turner said.
“The OFT will not stand for any agent committing such duplicitous acts within the property industry.”
Real estate agents and consumers may report suspected misconduct directly to the OFT online at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or by calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68).