A real estate agent has been convicted of fraud after confessing to stealing over $200,000 worth of client rental bonds, with his abuse of client trust described as “utterly reproachable”.
Matthew Thomas Williams, from Sydney’s inner west, pleaded guilty to dishonestly claiming more than $210,000 from the NSW Rental Bond Board. He claimed the refund of 42 rental bonds and was sentenced to two 15-month jail terms by the Parramatta Local Court.
The prison terms were wholly suspended, with Mr Williams entering a good behaviour bond and being disqualified from holding a real estate licence for 10 years.
Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said that Mr Williams had accessed his clients’ details and had claimed the bond refunds for himself.
“For almost two years, Williams used his position of trust to claim the rental bonds of tenants, and used the money primarily for gambling,” Mr Kean said.
Mr Kean claimed that this behaviour was planned and was only uncovered after a tenant reported it to Fair Trading after requesting a bond refund.
“This kind of behaviour is utterly reproachable. It erodes the trust between real estate agents and tenants, and general trust across the industry.”
Mr Williams worked across the areas of Glebe, Darlinghurst and Double Bay, and accessed the bonds over a period of two years.
As an estate agent, Mr Williams had access to the Rental Bonds Online system that allowed him to lodge bonds and claim the refunds. The affected tenants have had their bonds relodged or are in the process of being relodged with the Rental Bond Board.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.