Investors lose millions

A former bankrupt using multiple names can be revealed as the head of a property marketeering racket disguised as independent financial advice that has cost investors millions of dollars.

A former bankrupt using multiple names can be revealed as the head of a property marketeering racket disguised as independent financial advice that has cost investors millions of dollars.

The scheme has sold more than 400 properties and continues to flourish, despite crackdowns by the Queensland and federal governments targeting unscrupulous selling and predatory lending to naive investors.

A Sun-Herald investigation has established aggressive marketing by Heritage Financial Solutions of often overpriced and second-rate Queensland properties has left a trail of burned investors, bankruptcies and broken hearts.

Some investors have seen their property values plummet by more than half. In one unit block, $2 million has been wiped from the value of clients' investment.

The Sun-Herald is aware of investors being bankrupted because of loans they could never service, and stories abound of people being left with debts of more than $150,000.

"I'm angry and appalled," said one investor, Luke Bellamy. "I cannot believe [their] unconscionable tactics employed that has so-called customers fearing bankruptcy."

The organisation's mastermind is Faye Kotsis, a discharged bankrupt who first plied her trade on the Gold Coast with a discredited property marketeer, who was later found to have breached to Trade Practices Act. Until 2010, her business partner was her then husband, the Gold Coast property developer Alan Myall.

The scheme has paid scant regard to laws designed to prevent hard-selling by real estate sharks, with a raft of breaches including clients being asked to sign blank contracts.

The operation includes a call centre in Manila, a sales office in Brisbane and headquarters in Thornleigh. It promises its salespeople earnings of more than $200,000 a year, and offers bonuses and a Ferrari to high-performers.

Ms Kotsis, who has amassed a property portfolio worth millions, helps coach sometimes unlicensed staff to pressure investors by using a strategy they call putting them "in the hole". In the words of one company insider: "'The hole' is a very scary place to be ... They are asked how they will provide for their retirement ... 'Can you live on the pension?' Then after scaring the hell out of the people, [they] tell them there is a way to save them."

In the past decade, companies associated with Ms Kotsis - including Sunshine Pacific Corporation, Sunpac Finance, Alfa Homes and, more lately, Heritage Financial Solutions - have sold more than $65 million worth of property in Queensland.

Buyers have been kept in the dark about how many parties in the deal are taking their cut. Investors are not told that their financial adviser, the property vendor, the financier (including a company called Fast Loans), the property caretaker and the letting agent are all linked.

Ms Kotsis has denied having any relationship with many of Heritage's associated companies and Mr Myall said he had not been involved in the scheme for the past four years.

Full story Pages 8-9

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