Fraudster agent fined $60,000
Misuse of bond money
A SUNSHINE Coast real estate agent has been fined $60,000 and sentenced to jail for using tenants’ bond money to fund her business.
Anita Margaret Humphreys, who owned Sippy Downs real estate company Terreno Management, was sentenced in Maroochydore Magistrates Court after she pleaded guilty to two counts each of acting as an unlicensed property agent, wrongful conversion of trust monies and false accounts as an agent.
Humphreys came to the attention of the Office of Fair Trading in 2017 following complaints of her business’s poor management of rental properties.
Investigations uncovered Humphreys had mismanaged payments to clients, failed to pay rent to property owners and failed to lodge rental bonds, instead using the money for other purposes including paying business costs.
The court heard between May and October last year, Humphreys’ actions in falsifying trust account records and misappropriating funds led to a $121,728 shortfall in the Terreno Management trust account.
She admitted to falsifying a large number of entries in the agency’s banking software to keep her actions undiscovered.
Despite a warning from the OFT, Humphreys continued to operate as a real estate salesperson until October 2017.
Terreno Management’s licence was suspended in June 2017 and her real estate agent principal licence expired in August 2017.
Magistrate John Parker fined Humphreys and sentenced her to three months’ jail, suspended for 12 months.
He also disqualified her from holding a real estate agent licence for 10 years, with convictions recorded.
Fair Trading executive director Brian Bauer said agents who mishandled trust accounts ran the risk of degrading consumer confidence in the industry.