Victim waits four years for compensation.
Article originally published DECEMBER 5, 2005 –Reviewed and approved.
By Neil Jenman
Mark Paul Hunt was a real estate salesman. He was also a thief.
Mark Paul Hunt is now a prisoner. But it took four years to get him into jail. And almost as long for his victims to get compensation from an indemnity fund which is supposed to compensate the victims of real estate agency trust account fraud.
Trust account abuses are not uncommon in real estate. And neither are the hassles consumers suffer when trying to get compensation.
Hunt stole money to feed a gambling habit.
By the time the authorities moved in, Hunt was in America, spending stolen cash in casinos, and later Japan. This from a man once nominated by his employer, Century 21, as one of its highest achievers.
Only a bizarre series of circumstances brought him back to Australia where, charged with fraud and false pretences, he claimed that torture in a Japanese jail and mistreatment in a hospital had destroyed his memory.
While Hunt was travelling on the proceeds of his crimes, his victim Jason Di Iulio was trying to get his money back. Di Iulio had given Hunt a $100,000 cheque as the deposit for an apartment. Hunt altered the cheque and stolen the money
Di Iulio approached the ANZ Bank (which paid out on the forged cheque). He also contacted Century 21 and South Australia’s Real Estate Industry Indemnity Fund.
When Di Iulio approached the fund, he was told to sue the bank. That would have cost him around $60,000 in legal fees.
He was also told to sue the Century 21 office that employed Hunt. That would have cost him another $20,000.
When he contacted Century 21’s head office in Sydney, he was reportedly told this kind of thing happens all the time and that he should sort it out with the office where Hunt worked.
“Century 21 just did not want to know,” said Di Iulio. As for the indemnity fund which is supposed to take care of consumers in these situations, he said access to the fund was “almost impossible” and he could not get anyone to return his phone calls.
John Rau MP is a man well-known for his efforts to protect property consumers. Rau said, “I find it difficult to imagine a more suitable person to be a beneficiary of the fund … He was invited to jump through a series of absurd legal hoops with absolutely zero prospect of success … The cost of litigating against a bank, which invariably resorts to the deep pockets defence, is astronomical … Who was going to compensate him for all that unnecessary personal expense?”
In the District Court , Judge Herriman said, “You grossly abused positions of trust and carried out calculated plans of deception in order to obtain money (to) satisfy your gambling addiction.” Hunt was sentenced to a three-year prison term.
It took four years for Hunt’s victim to get his money back.
PLEASE NOTE: Our focus is upon helping consumers. Abuse from agents on our web site or Facebook page will be deleted, ignored or well publicised – it depends on our mood.
But one thing will never vary: We will never stop doing what we love most – helping polite and honest consumers get the best deal possible in real estate. And, of course, if any agents are serious about taking care of consumers, we’ll help you too. Thank you.