A Victorian man banned for selling trail books, leads and rent rolls which never materialised may once again be attempting to dupe brokers.
Victoria Consumer Affairs last year banned Mark William Whittingham from being the director of a company until 2028.
VAC also banned Whittingham and his company from dealing in rent rolls, mortgage trail books or planning books until 2023.
The charges came after Australian Broker revealed
in 2011 a large number of brokers had paid deposits to Whittingham for trail books which were never delivered.
Whittingham was also forced to pay nearly $200,000 in compensation to agents for rent rolls that he took deposits for and did not supply.
These penalties appear not to have deterred Whittingham, however, and he is allegedly now attempting to sell client databases to brokers.
A Victorian broker, who declined to be named, recently received an email from the address firstname.lastname@example.org
looking to sell a client database of up to 18,000 clients for around $1,000.
“We’re looking at expanding the business and bringing on more brokers - so of course you’re curious, and I sent an email back," said the broker.
The email from 'Income Buy', rife with spelling errors and with no mention of a company name, however, had the broker suspicious.
The original email read:
Data base for sale
We were mortgage brokers.
However we left the industry and no longar need the list
The price is $999 plus GST or best offer
If you are interested please reply with your contact details
Thank you for taking the time to read our email
The email appears to have been created with a simple template from emaildirector.co.uk.
After responding to the email with her details as requested, the Victorian broker received a phone call from a number which is believed to belong to Whittingham.
“He rang me and didn’t say who he was and I had to really push to find out who the company was who the leads belong to. I was asking a lot of questions and I don’t think he was overly comfortable with it.”
Eventually the man gave his name as Mark Whittingham, who the broker says she had dealt with in the past to purchase $600 worth of leads which never eventuated.
“I just didn’t want to see everybody get ripped off, basically,” the unnamed broker told Australian Broker
. “It’s not fair. Brokers, generally speaking, we earn a good living don’t get me wrong, but it’s tough times out there for a lot of them and $1000 is a lot of money to start with.
They work hard for it and it’s not fair.”
Calls made by Australian Broker
to the number on which the broker was contacted reach the voicemail of a man who identifies as 'Mark'. Messages left by Australian Broker
were not returned.
Messages to the email address respond with the subject line “Home Loan Selection Services”, the name of the company used by Whittingham in previous scams.
The domain name incomebuy.com.au is believed to have been previously registered under Whittingham’s name, but is now registered under the name of a woman named Kate Logie.
Whittingham’s wife, Kate Whittingham, was previously investigated by CAV for similar conduct to her husband’s regarding her business Rent Roll Buyers, operated through the company Cali Four Pty Ltd.
A spokesperson for Consumer Affairs Victoria said the regulator currently has no confirmed complaints or enquiries regarding Whittingham, but urged anyone with information of business practices such as the above to contact them.
"Consumer Affairs Victoria is always alert and monitors for traders and businesses that either fail to supply or misrepresent goods and services to consumers and other business," said the spokesperson. "Consumer Affairs Victoria also monitors compliance with court orders following enforcement actions to ensure adherence."
The spokesperson added that ASIC is responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the Corporations Act 2001,
which includes the regulation of company directors.
An ASIC spokesperson responded that ASIC's public register shows that Mark William Whittingham is disqualified from managing a company until 2028.
In general terms, the maximum penalty for someone found managing a company while disqualified is $8,500 or imprisonment for one year or both, said the spokesperson.