Former Scone real estate agent faces two years imprisonment over trust account fraud

A FORMER Scone real estate agent, who misused $593,000 that was held in trust, has been sentenced to two years imprisonment to be served by way of an Intensive Correction Order.

Stephen Bell was convicted in Parramatta Local Court last month for making fraudulent transfers of money received for home deposits on 11 properties in the Upper Hunter.

NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rose Webb said Bell breached the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 (NSW) during his time as the licensee-in-charge and sole director of Scone Real Estate Pty Ltd, which traded as Ray White, from 2013 to 2014.

“Scone Real Estate Pty Ltd acted as the vendor’s agent for 11 properties that were sold in Scone and for which deposits were to be held on trust between October 2013 and July 2014,” she said.

“But, Fair Trading investigators found that Mr Bell used some of the trust money to pay off credit card fees, home loan and other car expenses.

“In one instance, records show that a cash withdrawal of $18,000 was made from a trust account.

“By law, he had no authorisation to disburse the trust monies for any of the 11 properties until settlement.”

The court sentenced Mr Bell to two years imprisonment which will be served in the community under an Intensive Correction Order.

He must also complete 400 hours of community service.

The sentence comes after Mr Bell was disqualified in July 2015 from being involved in the direction, management, or conduct of a business or a licensee for 10 years.

“This outcome shows that Fair Trading will take all disciplinary and enforcement action necessary to ensure that persons in the real estate industry that misuse trust money are adequately punished,” Ms Webb said.

Mr Bell has the right to lodge an appeal.