Meanwhile, many more escape.
Article originally published APRIL 1, 2004 –Reviewed and approved.
By Neil Jenman
Anthony Rizk’s career as a real estate agent came to a sad end yesterday when he was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
The former principal of the Ray White franchise office in the Sydney suburb of Merrylands committed the one sin that even the sleepiest law enforcers can’t ignore. He stole money from his office trust account.
Rizk first came to the attention of the authorities back in 2000 when rental cheques to landlords began bouncing. Yesterday, the NSW Fair Trading Minister, Reba Meagher, was quick to hail the District Court’s decision, saying it was a “message to agents” that they must “play by the rules”.
Well, not quite.
While stealing money from a trust account is certainly a serious offence, it is also a rather obvious one, usually committed by the most desperate or the most stupid agents.
The ‘no-stealing-from-trust-account rule’ rarely creates a loss to consumers. Their money is returned from a compensation fund.
It is the other rules – those far more commonly broken by the less stupid and far more cunning agents – that should attract the attention of the Minister for Fair Trading.
Today, as Anthony Rizk faces a bleak future, thousands of agents will continue to break rules that the regulators either don’t understand or are too sleepy to investigate.
While the Fair-Trading Minister holds up the scalp of Anthony Rizk as a symbol of her effectiveness, consumers will continue to risk huge losses when dealing with typical agents.
The legion of cunning and crafty agents cause far more financial damage than the handful of desperate or stupid agents. And most of the crafty ones get away with it.
It’s the real estate version of the great escape.
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.