A broker who received an offer to purchase an 'exclusive' database which he already owned is calling on other brokers to help bring the seller - a banned trail book dealer - to justice.
Patrick McMenamin, director of Common Cents Financial Services in NSW, signed an agreement to purchase 'approximately 21,000 mortgage broking customers' from Mark Whittingham, operating through the company Connection Blue in December 2012.
received a copy of the contract signed by McMenamin and Whittingham which states the database 'is to be sold exclusively to the Purchaser alone' and that 'the data will be permanently removed from all computer systems and/or storage devices owned and operated by the Vendor'.
It appears Whittingham, however, failed to do so. Australian Broker
also received a copy of a database sold earlier this week to an Adelaide broker. The database matches the one purchased 'exclusively' by McMenamin more than a year ago.
The tax invoice the Adelaide broker received along with the database came from Califour Pty Ltd ATF MKDJTL Family Trust.
Califour.com is registered to Mark Whittingham, and the address given on the invoice matches that given as Whittingham’s contact address in the registry. Cali Four is also the name of the company run by Whittingham’s wife, Kate, that was previously under investigation by Consumer Affairs Victoria.
To add insult to injury, McMenamin claimed Whittingham even attempted to resell the same database back to him four months after he purchased it.
“What I discovered is despite all of his antics he doesn’t keep good records, because having completed the transaction it was only a matter of months and he was emailing another email address that he probably didn’t know was mine," said McMenamin.
McMenamin says he then phoned Whittingham and accused him of breaching the exclusivity conditions stated in their contract.
“And he carries on with stuff like ‘I’ve done the right thing by you and you’ve got all of the details and just because you haven’t been able to get any business out of it you blame me’. I told him that’s not what I said, what I said is that you sold the mailing list that I now own to someone else.”
The second email, forwarded to Australian Broker
, is remarkably similar to the first received by McMenamin. The email came from the address hlselserv.com.au - a domain registered to Mark Whittingham and the company Home Loan Selection Services.
Home Loan Selection Services is one of the company names used by Whittingham in trail book scams in 2011
. It is also the company name in the subject line of an email which a Victorian broker flagged as a scam
from Whittingham earlier this week.
McMenamin received a further email from incomebuy.com.au - the same address used to contact the Victorian Broker - in August last year attempting to sell a database.
An ABN lookup reveals Whittingham's company Connection Blue as the registered owner of trading names Income Buyers and Rent Roll Buyers. Rent Roll Buyers was the name of the company which Kate Whittingham operated through Cali Four.
A reverse domain name search also reveals Connection Blue as registrant of incomebuy.com.au.
In July 2013 Connection Blue and Whittingham were ordered by Consumer Affairs Victoria to pay compensation to buyers of rent rolls which were never provided. In October 2013 Whittingham was banned from being the director of a company until 2028.
McMenamin lodged a complaint with Consumer Affairs Victoria in June 2013 regarding Whittingham's attempts to resell client databases. He received no response. When contacted last week by Australian Broker
CAV stated they had received no confirmed complaints from Whittingham.
Following Australian Broker's
article earlier in the week describing a Victorian broker's dealings with Whittingham, a number of brokers have come forward with similar tales. There is also evidence to suggest Whittingham has been marketing his database to financial planners.
McMenamin urges other brokers who have evidence of dealings with Whittingham to contact him in order to collate evidence, stating a collective complaint with extensive evidence is the course of action most likely to receive a response and action against Whittingham.
“I think if we can show that he has sold the same mailing list to multiple people and has represented that this is a sole and exclusive sale then that is conversion, and conversion is criminal fraud,” said McMenamin.
“It’s going to take a number of brokers to put their information together to provide the evidence of criminal fraud.”
Jon Denovan, principal at Gadens Lawyers, says Whittingham's resale of the database will have breached a number of laws which could carry harsh penalties. Denovan encourages brokers who have had dealings with Whittingham to report his conduct to ASIC.
Brokers wishing to contact McMenamin to collate evidence can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org