Consumer Affairs Victoria has charged a real estate agent with misusing more than $930,000 in trust account funds, leaving clients unable to complete property transactions.
We are taking action against Syed Nasir Zafar,64, of Sunbury and his company Zafar Property Group Pty Ltd (ACN 168 008 428), under the Estate Agents Act 1980.
Between December 2019 and December 2020, it is alleged Mr Zafar caused more than $930,000 in trust account deficiencies and fraudulently converted trust money for personal use.
Mr Zafar’s clients were unable to complete transactions for property due to the alleged offending.
We launched an investigation after receiving complaints from sellers about dishonoured checks issued by the company. The cheques related to deposits for the purchase of commercial property.
Consumer Affairs Victoria Director Nicole Rich reminded estate agents that trust account money belongs to consumers and agents who misused it would be held accountable.
‘Trust account obligations are there to protect consumers when they entrust their money to an agent, as part of a property transaction,’ she said.
‘If you misuse trust account funds you can face penalties including large fines, losing your licence to practice, or jail for more serious offences,’ she said.
Claims related to the alleged offending have been lodged with the Victorian Property Fund, which provides financial protection for consumers adversely affected by trust account defaults. Consumer Affairs Victoria will seek a compensation order to repay the Fund on top of any penalties the court may impose.
Maximum penalties for individuals for the alleged offences range from fines of over $16,000 and two years’ jail, to fines of over $82,000 and 10 years’ jail.
Maximum fines for companies for the alleged offences range up to over $165,000.
The matter is next listed for a mention in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria on 22 May 2023.