Australian authorities are currently investigating a former real estate agent in connection with a case of fraud involving a False Land Information Report (LIM). The agent Yvonne Wang is being investigated by Australian authorities and the New Zealand police as well as the Real Estate Authority (REA), New Zealand’s property regulator. Real estate attorney John Waymouth believes that Barfoot & Thompson, the real estate firm that employed Wang, should compensate victims for the estimated $300,000 in financial loss because the company’s employee appears to have been “complicit” in the deception.
The fraud case involved an elderly couple who forged an official property document in 2015 to sell their home with damp problems at full market value to unsuspecting buyers. The couple requested an electronic copy of the LIM report from Auckland Council and removed reference to damp problems with their home’s cladding. They then sent the doctored report to Wang, who uploaded it to Barfoot & Thompson’s website and made it available to potential buyers. Since the buyers were unaware of the deception, they purchased the property for $1.19 million. When they put the property up for sale four years later, they learned the truth and were forced to sell it as a house with damp problems at a significant loss.
Wang denied any knowledge of the fraud and was not charged in connection with the case. However, he voluntarily revoked his real estate brokerage license in 2018 and now works in Australia for Okura Real Estate Pty Ltd. employed. Australian authorities are currently investigating Wang to determine whether crimes were committed within their jurisdiction. The New Zealand REA has received a request from NSW Fair Trading, the regulator of real estate agents in the state, and is considering what action can be taken.
Barfoot & Thompson, the real estate firm involved, has not yet commented on the case but said it will cooperate with the investigation. The company claims it had no knowledge of its sales agent’s involvement at this point during the investigation in New Zealand. It is unclear whether they will accept responsibility or provide compensation to the victims.