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Real estate agent jailed for stealing trust money

A former Broadbeach real estate agent who used his clients’ money held in trust to feed his gambling addiction and business expenses has been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.

Anthony James Mauceri, sole director and principal licensee of GCQ Property Sales and Rentals Pty Ltd, pleaded guilty to two counts of misappropriation of trust funds in the Southport District Court earlier this year following an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigation.

Mr Mauceri was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and will serve a minimum of seven months.

The court heard that between February and July 2019, the OFT received 18 complaints from property owners who had not received any rental income for nearly two months from properties that Mr Mauceri and his company were managing.

Another complainant was a seller of a property who did not received the balance of $15,225 after the sale went through.

A tenant also lost money after their bond of $3400 was not lodged with the Residential Tenancies Authority by Mr Mauceri.

Mr Mauceri made 63 unauthorised transfers from his company’s sales and rental trust accounts totalling $111,437 to pay employee wages, fund gambling and general business expenses.

Affected consumers were compensated through the Office of Fair Trading Claim Fund.

In sentencing, District Court Judge Katherine McGinness said Mr Mauceri committed a serious breach of his clients’ trust and that there has been no repayment of the money he took.

Commissioner for Fair Trading Victoria Thomson, in a statement released last week, warned real estate agents against helping themselves to money in a trust account.

“Trust money is not your money; it belongs to your clients,” she said. “Taking trust money for personal use is stealing and the OFT will prosecute any property agent that thinks they can access and use trust money in this way.

“Reports made to the OFT of property agents disregarding their trust account obligations are taken very seriously.

“Breaches of trust by real estate agents weakens consumer confidence in the property industry. Those who abuse it will be held accountable.”

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