A national franchise has seen six Melbourne offices taken over by Consumer Affairs following the misappropriation of millions of dollars.
LJ Hooker franchisees Joseph Ngo and Judy Thanh Truc (also known as Judy Nguyen) are at the centre of the sudden collapse of agencies in Glen Waverley, Keysborough, Mount Waverley, Burwood, Doncaster and Box Hill, according to Fairfax Media.
About 110 landlords and clients are now millions of dollars out of pocket, with people losing home deposits while others are owed rental money and bonds.
Consumer Affairs Minister Jane Garrett said victims would get their money back through the Victorian Property Fund, which is worth more than $400 million, and has appointed Garry McLean of PPB Advisory as statutory manager.
Mr McLean has been instructed to reconstruct records, deal with outstanding consumer, landlord and tenant transactions, wind down the business, and write all known landlords whose properties were under management with these offices to advise them of their options.
LJ Hooker has since formed a specialist team to support Mr McLean and the franchise is working closely with Consumer Affairs Victoria to assist in their ongoing investigation.
On Friday, Ms Truc initially claimed the trust accounts had been hacked and on Saturday told Fairfax Media in a series of text messages and phone conversations that she was the victim of an elaborate conspiracy.
While maintaining her innocence concerning the trust account irregularities, Ms Truc said she accepts full responsibility and is currently working with authorities.
According to Domain, the franchisees were named LJ Hooker’s ‘Best Team of the Year 2015’ in the company’s annual state awards.
[Related: Real estate boss pleads guilty to fraud]