A Gold Coast real estate agent, who tried to pull the wool over the eyes of potential land-buyers, has learned his fate.
Lawrie Phillips from Robina pleaded guilty to breaching Australian Consumer Law when he faced the Beaudesert Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
The court heard a Canungra couple approached Mr Phillips at his office at Canungra Realty in late August 2015 to purchase a piece of local land.
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Mr Phillips said he owned the property and would consider the offer from the couple, before contacting them in early September to accept.
He invited them to his office to sign a contract of sale and pay a deposit of $12,000.
The property was purchased on 2 September 2015 and settlement was expected to be within 60 days or 14 days from the Registration of Title.
A statement from the Office of Fair Trading explains that during this time, Mr Phillips both verbally and in writing via the sales contract, made false and misleading representations to the consumer that he held the appropriate real estate licence to conduct the sale, and that he had ownership of the land and the authority to sell the land, all of which were false.
Not realising the fraud, the couple organised for soil tests to be done on the block of land, at a cost of $1750, while the property was under contract, to begin house plans.
Mr Phillips advised the couple everything was on schedule for a settlement, however as the expected settlement came closer, Mr Phillips began avoiding the couple, including not returning phone messages and continued to do so for four months.
The couple eventually recovered their deposit of $12,000 after learning some seven months after entering into the agreement that Mr Phillips did not own the land he had agreed to sell to them as it had been in the possession of a mortgagee since April 2015.
The Office of Fair Trading stepped in and charged Mr Phillips with making false and misleading representations.
He has been ordered to pay $11,846: $10,000 in fines, $1750 in compensation and court costs of $96.
A conviction was not recorded.
In sentencing, the court considered his guilty plea and lack of previous convictions but noted the behaviour was inappropriate and undermined the integrity of the real estate industry.