Following the suspension of his real estate licence in Victoria on Wednesday, the question remains whether Luke Hemmings will re-emerge in the future with another persona and scam aimed at deceiving the unwitting and unaware.
Following a series of stories regarding the exploits of the person also known as Dene Broadbelt, Dene Mussillon, Nic Lloyd, Clay O’Connor and a host of other fictitious names, Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) yesterday confirmed to The Courier it had suspended the real estate licence granted to ‘Luke Hemmings’ after a licence granted in the Northern Territory was also withdrawn.
In an email, CAV confirmed the suspension, stating:
The BLA has today suspended Mr Hemmings' estate agent's licence with effect from 11/12/2018. This suspension occurred under section 33(1) of the Mutual Recognition Act 1992 (Cth). It follows confirmation that the Northern Territory Agents Licensing Board suspended Mr Hemmings' licence yesterday pending a disciplinary inquiry.Consumer Affairs Victoria
Following yesterday’s story describing the experiences of those who Hemmings/Broadbelt/Mussillon had either defrauded or attempted to defraud, The Courier has heard further disturbing stories of his behaviour, including:
Stalking people he had ‘employed’ who complained about not being paid by him, including leaving damaging comments and reviews about them on their current workplace media; posting non-existent properties as having been listed with his agencies; threatening fellow radio announcers (Hemmings worked in community radio); faking his own death via email; and soliciting voice-over artists for a non-existent real estate agency, in this case ‘Owen Dixon’ Real Estate. It bears reading one of the voiceover scripts:
Our illustrious leader, Luke Hemmings, has ensured that since inception in 2017, we've grown into an iconic brand at the forefront of the Victorian property scene. Combining passionate leadership, strong mentorship, and innovation, it's not hard to see how Luke's encouragement has led to our servicing the breadth of Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, the Surf Coast, and regional Victoria. Luke's influence is contagious; he'll challenge the norm to bring out the very best in his team, and help us to think like our clients, not like agents.
(For the record, Sir Owen Dixon is regarded as the foremost jurist Australia has ever produced, a High Court judge for 35 years and a Chief Justice of Australia.)
So how do people avoid being taken in by a character like Hemmings? It’s important to remember that for the most part, humans are given to a ‘confirmation bias’ – we want the things that people tell us to be true. It’s a basic psychological trait, and one exploited by confidence artists who can often also be sociopaths and narcissists.
They flatter and praise, all the while offering unlimited opportunities of wealth or fame, without any empathy or care for the suffering they cause. In Hemmings’s case, he offers himself as a kind of wunderkind estate agent, able to achieve things mere ‘everyday’ agents cannot.
CEO of the Real Estate Institute of Victoria Gil King said the best way to avoid being ripped off in the market is research and scepticism.
“I would encourage anyone considering selling property in Ballarat and surrounds to do their homework when selecting an agent,” said Mr King
“It’s always a good idea to talk to family, friends or neighbours who have recently participated in a property transaction about their experience, and if they have any recommendations or advice.”
Mr King recommended the REIV ‘Choose a Member’ search facility on their website to aid research.
“When someone chooses an REIV member, they choose a professional who has completed the required training; undertakes continuing professional development training; is covered by professional indemnity insurance and; importantly is required to follow REIV guidelines to always act ethically, honestly and fairly.”
Ballarat agent Phillip Lee of Ray White Real Estate agrees.
“Word of mouth is a strong indicator, and seek agents who are members of organisations such as the REIV,” he says.
“Always check if the agent is licenced, and perhaps look at using a franchised agent. There is constnat training offered by franchises, and greater security if in the unlikely case something does go wrong. Interview the agent and make sure they know exactly what you want.”
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