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22 September 2003

Investment Scam

How a shyster solicitor betrays his clients.

Murray and Helen Casey were in their early sixties. Their only asset was their family home in Montrose, Victoria, which was worth about $200,000.

In July 2000, on the advice of a “financial expert” from a company called Greenwich Solutions, they flew to Queensland. It was a Sunday. They were pushed to buy a unit for a total of $178,500 (including costs). When they expressed concern, they were told, “This is a good investment with great tax benefits and will be ideal to set you up for retirement.” They were taken to a law firm – Richard Ebbott and Co – where they signed contacts to buy the unit.

Back in Melbourne they told their daughter-in-law what they had done. She discovered that the unit was worth about $110,000. Murray and Helen, on the verge of retirement, suddenly found themselves with their family home fully mortgaged to pay for an “investment” unit which was worth $70,000 less than they were paying.

The following Sunday, Helen called Richard Ebbott, the lawyer in Queensland whom they had met the previous weekend. She wanted to cancel. It was too late. Ebbott said, “You have signed and you cannot pull out and if you try to you will be sued by the property owner.” When Helen persisted, Ebbott became annoyed, saying he had just arrived home from a barbecue and did not appreciate being disturbed on a Sunday. He said he didn’t want to speak any longer.

Helen and Murray did not sleep that night. The next day, Helen was treated by her doctor for “extreme distress”.

Ultimately, they were released from their purchase. Unlike so many others, they did not get saddled with a dud investment that would have destroyed their financial future.


This story is taken from the book, Don’t Sign Anything!

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