Fraud­ster agent fined $60,000

Mis­use of bond money

Sunshine Coast Daily - - NEWS -

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.

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