THE UNEXPECTED DARK SIDE

It seemed like such a win-win situation.  (But baby boomers beware – this could be your downfall).

The folksy New Zealand couple – he, George, was a big 6’2” guy with coke-bottle glasses and an impressive gut and she, Kandy, was a small round-faced girl-woman — wanted to leverage their hospitality skills from running a hotel to handling the more challenging holiday complex in the Gold Coast.

They responded to a Seek advertisement requiring a “Resident Unit Manager Couple” who wanted to buy the management rights – that is an on-site apartment and the business of holiday letting and caretaking.   The agreement was to buy the management rights within a couple of months after getting finance ready.

The “seller” of the management rights was an older couple, Ben and Roweena, who had owned it for 6 years – originally bought with – and for —  their daughter and son-in-law.

It seemed the perfect personal and business opportunity for a young couple – where the young couple could get into the property market via the purchase of the Managers Unit and where they could learn important business skills of customer service (meeting new holiday-makers), bookkeeping (handling the transactions), marketing (i.e. using Internet marketing channels to capture holiday-makers), people skills (e.g. handling owners of the holiday units and dealing with the Body Corporate Committee who represent the owners) and even minor handyman responsibilities.

When the marriage of the young couple floundered and failed after four years, Ben and Roweena – as is the case with many baby-boomers — were left with “picking up the pieces” and had to get other Resident Unit Managers to perform the activities such as George and Kandy.

The big Kiwi couple showed their appropriate Resident Letting Agent license and got stuck into the new job quickly.  They won the affection of many owners when they saw the tropical landscaping improve and they saw their income also gradually improve.

It was only later that George and Kandy started coming up with excuses as to why they couldn’t buy the management rights and unit as agreed – and Ben and Roweena decided that they needed to have a “real buyer”.  They gave an ultimatum as to finalising the deal, and the Kiwi couple refused and terminated their Independent Contractor Agreement early.

But instead of leaving with a planned handover, the Kiwi couple took the computer with all business information and all hard-copy records – and returned the now-emptied computer only the next day upon legal demands.   Meanwhile all booking information, emails with owners, marketing information and passwords were apparently destroyed.

To add insult to injury for Ben and Roweena, the Kiwi couple decided to stay on the premises and in fact moved into the unit across from the newly-placed Resident Unit Managers – who had the unenviably task of taking over operations with no handover.

The Kiwi coupe stalked, verbally abused and physically threatened the new Resident Unit Managers by towering over them and mocking them by stating, “Nobody likes you – in fact they hate you”.

The vindictive Kiwi couple contaminated the holiday complex pool 4 times – and reported the contamination each time with the Gold Coast City Council.   They also put plastic plates on the communal BBQ causing them to melt – to provide additional work for the new Resident Unit Managers.  They tipped over rubbish bins for the new Resident Unit Managers to clean up – and even stole the doorbell remote of the Manager’s unit.

Ben and Roweena were flabbergasted to encounter such vindictive people – who apparently relished in the disruption and drama which they caused.  The Kiwi couple also bragged to their fellow Kiwi RUM colleagues that they had “obtained boy-toy money for their jet ski  and new souped up Holden” by setting up a second EFTPOS that they ran money through – instead of Ben and Roweena’s business EFTPOS.

Ben started investigating these comments while initially discounting them.   However, when he contacted the local bank EFTPOS Help Line he was surprised to find that there indeed was a second EFTPOS at the same holiday complex site – but because of privacy reasons they couldn’t identify to Ben the owner or nature of the EFTPOS.

Ben also found out that in fact the Kiwi couple had become so “chummy” with the owners that they had separately planned and plotted the buying of the management rights with the owners providing the deposit and the Kiwi couple responsible for the main bank loan.

To Ben and Roweena’s chagrin – and intense frustration – it was found out that the Kiwi couple had previously been bankrupt in New Zealand, had forged their credentials as the Resident Letting Agents and therefore never had the real capability of purchasing the management rights.  The owners had been duped – but didn’t know it and even didn’t want to believe it.   The Body Corporate Committee – when discovered that they had been colluding with the Kiwi couple briefly chastised those involved, and then turned a blind eye to all other issues.

Ben then gathered statutory declarations given by colleagues of the Kiwi couple and took this information to the Police and to solicitors.

Although very surprised by the nasty things done by the Kiwi couple, Ben was initially relieved that “at least via the Police and Courts” there could be timely handling of the nasty deeds.

How very wrong Ben and Roweena found this to be – in fact, the Police advised that this type of fraud was common on the Gold Coast, that evidence needs to be clear and obvious and that such investigations would “take months, if not years”.  Ben was advised that “the bank EFTPOS information exists ‘for eternity’ so there is no rush to get that information.

For the Court action, Ben and Roweena found that their District Court proceedings would similarly take months if not years – at the cost of $60,000 to $100,000.    It would cost at least $15,000-20,000 just to get the information from the bank about the second EFTPOS.

Moreover, the Kiwi couple remained in the unit across from the new Resident Unit Managers – and continued  to provoke the new Resident Unit Managers via drunken rages on Saturday nights and hidden sabotage – because they knew where the security cameras were and could position themselves to not be observed.

Ben and Roweena felt powerless that there could be the obvious damage to their business and that of other owners and tenants – and resolution of this would take months – and a substantial amount of their hard-earned superannuation going to solicitors.

As Ben was looking for criminal and civil resolution to this, he found that indeed there were many other examples of Resident Unit Managers stealing from Body Corporates hundreds of thousand dollars – especially on the Gold Coast.

Both Ben and Roweena’s health deteriorated as the weeks turned into months – with the Kiwi couple on site overtly intimidating, subtly sabotaging and arrogantly and flagrantly ignoring that there were serious legal and criminal charges against them.

The Body Corporate continued to turn a “blind eye” to the Kiwi couple’s vexatious behaviour which started driving tenants and owners from the complex.  It was “the path of least resistance” – so the “bad guys” continued to run their subtle reign of terror while ignoring civil and criminal actions.

So baby boomers with retirement savings beware – there are folks out there who are professional con-men and who – with the current criminal and legal system — can get away with destroying good people.

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About addedval

Ken's journey has been as a pathfinder who seeks out opportunities for making a real difference to global teams working together effectively and realising amazing business results. This covers his work as a Partner for a major management consulting company in multiple countries, as an entrepreneur with starting and selling various businesses, as a property developer and capital raiser and as head of various boutique consultancies.
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