A man with a string of aliases and a list of failed ventures and debts has attempted to set up estate agencies in Narooma and Bermagui.
Former Surf Beach man Dene Broadbelt, now using the name Luke or Lucas Hemmings, has this month tried to open real estate agencies under two business names, Meriton Estate Agents Pty Ltd and Coastal Property Agents.
Mr Broadbelt - who has also used the names Harrison O’Connor, Dean Mussillon and others - advertised for staff on an internet job site and conducted interviews.
On September 28, 2017, Fairfax Media spoke by phone to a man who answered as “Luke”.
Asked if he was also known as Dene Broadbelt, the man said “yes”.
Asked why he had changed his name, Mr Broadbelt said “for legal reasons” and then refused to comment further and terminated the phone call.
His attempt to open an office in Bermagui foundered this month when his past was discovered.
A reader also became suspicious and contacted Fairfax Media saying the person conducting interviews under the name Luke Hemmings was the man earlier known as Dene Broadbelt.
The website listed on the initial advertisement does not function and the phone number has been disconnected.
Mr Broadbelt has since tried to open an office in Narooma under the name of Coastal Property Agents, which is linked on the Australian Government ABN Lookup site to the company named Meriton Estate Agents Pty Ltd.
It is understood Meriton Estate Agents Pty Ltd has no association with the similarly named Meriton Group.
Mr Broadbelt, using the name Luke Hemmings, was in December 2016 granted a licence as a real estate agent in South Australia – a decision now under review.
Mr Broadbelt has been the subject of a string of complaints from people who said he had not paid for their services for failed ventures, including music festivals.
Under NSW law, a real estate agent registered in another state can operate in the period while they are applying for a NSW licence. However, a spokesperson from NSW Fair Trading told Fairfax Media Mr Broadbelt was not licensed in NSW under any of the names he has been known to use.
“Mr Dean/Dene Broadbelt, aka Mr Harrison O’Connor aka Mr Lucas or Luke Hemmings is an unlicensed real estate agent in NSW,” the spokesperson said.
“NSW Fair Trading advises the public to be alert and to search on the Fair Trading public register to ensure the real estate agent they are dealing with is a licenced agent in NSW.
“The public register can be found on the Fair Trading web site http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/. A NSW licence is required in order to operate as a real estate agent in this state.
“An individual who holds an equivalent licence in another state may apply for an equivalent licence to operate in NSW under the Mutual Recognition (New South Wales) Act 1992. Mutual Recognition allows licence holders to have their current eligibility for a licence in one state to be recognised for an equivalent licence in another state without having to provide further qualifications.”
However, the licence issued to Luke Hemmings in December 2016 is now under review in South Australia, that state’s Consumer and Business Services department said on September 28.
“Consumer and Business Services is currently considering whether it is appropriate for Mr Hemmings to continue holding a licence in South Australia,” a spokesperson for the department told Fairfax Media.
An advertisment published on September 1 said “Meriton Estate Agents is the South Coast’s newest real estate agency and we are pleased to call Bermagui and Narooma home”.
A Facebook page under the name Lucas Hemmings includes an image of Mr Broadbelt and the following quote: “Sometimes you have to play the role of a fool. to fool the fool who think they're fooling you!”
‘I am not dead’
In a bizarre turn in 2015, Mr Broadbelt was reported to be dead.
In an interview with Fairfax Media in March 2015, Mr Broadbelt denied he had issued a press release on Tuesday, March 17, 2015, announcing his own death.
“I am not dead,” he told the Bay Post on March 19, 2015.
Mr Broadbelt was the subject of a release emailed to the Bay Post, which informed “everyone of the sad news that Dene Broadbelt died unexpectedly on Saturday night”, March 14, 2015.
The release went on to say funeral arrangements would be announced and gave alleged details of Mr Broadbelt’s “last wishes”.
Mr Broadbelt said the release purported to be from a man he once worked with in western NSW.
Mr Broadbelt had previously garnered bad publicity after a string of failed ventures and debts, under various names, led him to be labelled a conman, including in the Eurobodalla.
In March 2015, in rural Victoria, it was reported he tried to establish himself as a real estate agent.
Mr Broadbelt that month denied being a conman, however admitted to running up debts of $250,000 and said he had declared himself bankrupt last year.
“I made a mistake when I was younger,” he said.
“I racked up a few debts, it came to $250,000.
“There was no option other (than) to declare myself bankrupt.”
He told the Bay Post on Thursday, March 19, 2015, that he had adopted aliases to protect himself.
“I have changed my name because I have been receiving death threats,” he said at the time.
“My name at present, licensed through Births, Deaths and Marriages, is Harrison O’Connor.”
Mr Broadbelt has also used the name Dene Mussillon, which he said was his mother’s name and his registered birth name.
He said this had been changed at the age of five to his father’s name, Broadbelt.
“In April 2014, because of all these stories - I was receiving death threats and so was my mum and my grandparents - they urged me to change my name, which is now Harrison O’Connor,” he said.
In the same interview, he denied trying to set up a real estate agency in Victoria.
“I have completed a diploma in real estate,” he said at the time.
“I came down looking to get into the real estate industry, to move on with my life.
“But they were only plans.”
He denied offering employment to anyone, as reported in Victorian media, and said he knew he could not sell real estate without a licence.
“I have only put feelers out,” he said.
He said the police had visited his home in Timboon, but told him he had not done anything wrong.
“I am not wanted on any charges,” he said.
However, they advised him to leave town.
“I have basically been run out of town,” he said.
“I have had death threats.
“I will have to wait for the bankruptcy to clear and hopefully people will let me move on with my life and I will get a job in retail or something.”
In July 2014, the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner reported the concerns of Milton’s Scott Richardson, who said he had been stung in an elaborate scam by Mr Broadbelt.
Mr Broadbelt said he did owe Mr Richardson funds, but Mr Richardson had contacted him to congratulate him when he declared himself bankrupt earlier that year.
“There are some funds owing to him, but again, you can’t lead a horse to water and make it drink and I am bankrupt, so I can’t pay it,” he said.
“Scott has been really understanding.
“He sent me a message soon after I declared myself bankrupt and said congratulations.”
Asked if he was a conman, Mr Broadbelt said “No”.
“I have made a silly mistake in the past, in my younger years I racked up a bit of debt, and I have tried to resolve that by declaring myself bankrupt,” he said.
“Declaring myself bankrupt has made me wake up to the situation.
Asked he if felt pity for the many people who had lost money in his projects, he said “Yeah”.
“But the majority of them, 99 per cent have accepted it and there is no more that they can do,” he said.