A former real estate representative, who managed a portfolio of 150 rental properties, has been sentenced to a four-month jail term after scamming over $50,000 in trust account money.
Kian Meng Ong, also known as Dennis Ong, has been sentenced to a four-month jail term, wholly suspended for 18 months, and fined $2,500 for the misappropriation of $52,000 in trust account money.
Mr Ong recently pleaded guilty in Moorabbin Magistrates’ Court to four counts of fraudulently converting rental money received by his employer.
Mr Ong, who at the time managed a portfolio of 150 rental properties at Ray White Oakleigh in Victoria, admitted that he paid himself a total of $52,024.90 in trust account money between September 2012 and February 2013.
He committed the offences by changing the account details of the payee on the agency's computer system, according to Consumer Affairs Victoria.
Instead of rent money being paid from the agency’s trust account to a landlord, it was transferred to Mr Ong’s private bank account on four occasions.
After the landlord complained to the estate agent about not receiving rent money in February 2013, Mr Ong confessed to his employer that he had changed the computer system to pay the money into his own account.
Ray White Oakleigh then proactively engaged an auditor and Consumer Affairs Victoria was notified about Mr Ong’s conduct.
Mr Ong admitted the fraud to Consumer Affairs Victoria inspectors and arranged to repay the stolen trust account money.
The case sheds light on the low level of education needed to become an agent representative, which gives you the right to manage large portfolios and trust account money as part of a property management or real estate business.
Are the entry barriers into the real estate industry too low? For a real estate representative, is managing a property portfolio of 150 too much?