Mum reveals investment fraud nightmare
IT has already cost this woman her marriage, now an investment property nightmare that has ensnared scores of people across Australia has left her with no choice but to sell the home in which she raised her children.
Even then she may end up with nothing.
Meanwhile, the man who allegedly masterminded the fraud has also recently separated from his wife and his mansion is on the market, with creditors of his failed empire owed more than $40 million.
But that is where the similarities between Tracey Todd and Richard Marlborough end.
His company, Members Alliance, cold-called the Todds in early 2014. At the time the couple was struggling to make ends meet. By contrast, Marlborough was about to take delivery of a Rolls Royce worth nearly $700,000. He and his fellow directors are now fighting criminal charges over the Members Alliance scandal. The Rolls has been repossessed.
Ms Todd told News Corp Australia no mention of investment property was made in the cold-call. That only happened near the end of six hours of face-to-face presentations that painted a dire picture: they would retire with unpaid debts and be unable to financially help their children.
"They said 'this is actually about your kids' future'," Ms Todd recalled. "They were really trying to scare us."
Members Alliance said the answer to their plight was an investment property, which would lower their tax bill and increasing their asset base. The company tried to get them to sign a contract straight away. They resisted.
But after three days of three aggressive follow-up calls each day, they agreed to a house and land package in the Queensland town of Bowen, halfway between Townsville and Mackay.
By mid-2014, the house was supposedly at lockup stage. The bank paid out.
But the house wasn't at lockup at all. It was just a skeleton, and remained so until the start of this year.
Ms Todd has since got the Bowen dwelling finished with help from the Queensland Building and Construction Commission. It is up for sale. She faces a loss of $250,000.
That is more than she owes ANZ, even though it eventually compensated her for the advance drawdowns.
"We have to sell our home here in Wollongong to cover the loss against Bowen," Ms Todd said. "We are potentially now walking away with nothing from the sale of both places."
Coincidentally, Marlborough's four-bedroom four-bathroom Gold Coast mansion, which boasts a swim-up wet bar and views of one of Australia's best resort golf courses, recently hit the market.
It is insured for $2.5 million, according to court documents seen by News Corp Australia. It has been valued at $1.6 million.
Earlier this year Marlborough, now a bankrupt, was charged with offences including "dishonestly causing a financial detriment to persons investing in properties".
The case is listed for mention in Brisbane Magistrates Court on December 10. He is defending the allegations, as are the other Members Alliance directors.