6 LJ Hooker branches have shut in Melbourne over reports of misused trust funds

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Six LJ Hooker branches in Melbourne have been shut by Victoria’s consumer watchdog over reports that agents had mismanaged client funds.

“On 21 April 2016 LJ Hooker terminated the franchise offices of LJ Hooker Glen Waverley, Keysborough, Box Hill, Mount Waverley, Doncaster and Burwood… due to a fundamental breach of its franchise agreements,” a spokesperson from the company told the ABC.

The six franchises were owned by Judy Thanh Truc, also known as Judy Nguyen, and her husband Joseph Ngo, who are believed to have spent deposits belonging to their clients.

Consumer Affairs Victoria is currently investigating the closed franchises in Melbourne’s east and southeast suburbs.

More than 100 people are reportedly still awaiting money being owed to them — some as much as $60,000.

In a text message to Fairfax Media, Truc said that their internal systems had been hacked and that “someone set me up with trust account”.

“I report to head office and my auditor, also Consumer Affair investigate too.

“Currently I am waiting for the result. They are dealing with my lawyer. I cannot say anything now.”

But in a subsequent email to the ABC, LJ Hooker said that: “At no time did Ms Nguyen say that her trust account had be hacked.”

“On 20th April, the day prior to termination of the franchise agreement, Ms Judy Nguyen informed LJ Hooker for the first time that her partner, Joseph Ngo had misused trust funds,” it read.

“Prior to 20 April, LJ Hooker had not been notified that money had been wrongfully taken from the trust accounts of JT Law Investments.”

Compensation may be available through the Victorian Property Fund to affected consumers who have lost money.

You can read more here.

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