A McGrath property manager has been found guilty of stealing $11,730 from her employer’s trust account by moving it into her own bank account over a period spanning 11 May to 20 October 2016.
Michelle Anne Tomic was convicted on 9 March 2020 and was ordered to pay a fine of $10,000. She was also disqualified from holding or obtaining a licence or certificate of registration under the Property Occupations Act 2014 (Qld) for a period of 10 years and reprimanded.
Ms Tomic had worked as a property manager for McGrath Real Estate Agents Springwood (Queensland) from 15 June 2015 to 20 October 2016. Part of her property management responsibilities included facilitating maintenance works at properties and organising payment from the agency’s trust account.
Ms Tomic abused this process, using her own unique login credentials to create a new property maintenance creditor under the name of ‘T and M Property and Painting’ (‘T and M’) using her own home address and her own personal bank account.
Ms Tomic’s actions became known to McGrath 22 days after Ms Tomic left the agency, when one property owner objected to a $280 charge made out to ‘T and M’ for repairs to a hot water system. This led to an in depth inspection of the accounts which showed there were 44 transactions relating to 31 separate rental properties for repairs and maintenance work totalling $11,734.00. Investigations revealed that the owners had not requested and had not received the services that they had been charged for.
Ms Tomic claimed she had hired a friend to perform each of the instances of maintenance work for her. She said she was withdrawing the money from her account and meeting her friend at a pub to pay him in cash. She claimed this friend had since moved away and she no longer had knowledge of his whereabouts or his phone number. Ms Tomic said that she took a 10% cut of the fee paid to the friend, which she justified as she was a single mother with financial issues and was desperate for money.
Once confronted, Ms Tomic offered to pay McGrath $50 per week to repay the money taken if they would drop all the charges. Needless to say, McGrath did not take up Ms Tomic’s offer and the Office of Fair Trading investigators pursued the case.
The Office of Fair Trading made numerous enquiries to locate and identify this friend of Ms Tomic but all attempts failed. It was concluded this friend did not exist and even if he did exist it was found to be unlikely that he undertook maintenance work and was paid in cash minus a 10% fee for such work.