August 24th 2009
by Neil Jenman.
A bank robber who robbed a bank of almost a quarter of a million dollars has been banned from entering any bank premises for five years.
Gus Grabovich, who has a long history of dishonesty - ranging from petty theft to major armed hold-ups - was found to be an unsuitable person to be on bank premises. Grabovich is a former bank employee.
The manager of the Erwood branch of the Westpack bank - which was the last bank to be robbed by Grabovich - said on Friday, "This man is a disgrace to the banking industry. We don't want him coming into any more banks until he learns to stop stealing our money. Even though we are insured against theft, we still don't like being robbed."
Grabovich has been allowed to keep the money he stole. He has not faced any criminal charges. Aside from his five-year ban on being allowed to enter banks, Grabovich has faced no other action.
"This doesn't bother me a bit," Grabovich laughed last week. "I can live quite comfortably on the money I've stolen. The banks can get lost as far as I'm concerned. If I need money in the next five years, I'll think of some other way to get it."
Now, how's that for a story?! Impossible, right? Well, yes, in the real world of bank robberies, it's fiction. Such a scenario could never occur. I just made it up so that I can illustrate a point. Real estate robbers get away with much more than real robbers.
Take the case of Sean Kenny as a perfect example of what agents get away with.
Two years ago, we reported on the case of 'Sean Kenny's Big Deal'. Kenny ran a real estate agency in the northern NSW town of Mullumbimby. He claimed to be the biggest and best in town as he drove around in his big black Ranger Rover.
One day Kenny met a near-blind elderly lady. She wanted to sell her home and move to a retirement village. Kenny personally bought the lady's home for $350,000.
A few weeks later, with himself as the new owner, Sean Kenny put the property up for sale for $658,000. He later sold the home and pocketed a quick profit of just under $250,000.
Following our article - and national media coverage, including being featured on television on both A Current Affair and Today Tonight plus being the front page story in the district's newspaper, The Northern Star - the New South Wales Office of Fair Trading investigated Sean Kenny's dirty deal with the elderly lady.
After a lengthy investigation the Office of Fair Trading has now disqualified Sean Kenny from working in the real estate industry for five years. "Mr Kenny exploited the trust of an elderly client for his own financial gain," a Fair Trading spokesperson said.
Darned right, he did. Sean Kenny robbed an elderly lady of almost $250,000. And he gets to keep the loot.
Imagine the outcry if bank robbers were allowed to keep their loot and were simply banned from going near banks.
Real estate crime - especially the crime of ripping off elderly and trusting homesellers - is rife in real estate. It is no exaggeration to say that it goes on all the time. It's a joke.
Another real estate agent (who, like Sean Kenny is, in reality, a real estate robber) is a grub by the name of Markus Edward Larcombe (aka Mark Larcombe).
Mark Larcombe has been ripping off elderly folk for years.
His latest heist was to buy the home of a man in his 80s for $890,200 and re-sell the same home 15 months later for almost $2 million ($1,935,000 to be exact - a profit of $1,044,800).
Mark Larcombe had previously ripped off another elderly man of $700,000, plus an earlier robbery which netted him a tad over a hundred thousand dollars (a minor score by his more recent heists).
Mark Larcombe whose total [known] robberies of the elderly is close to $2 million has now been banned from working as a real estate agent for ten years. The Office of Fair Trading says that Larcombe's ban "should serve as a strong warning to other real estate agents who are thinking of cheating their clients."
On the contrary, the punishment handed out to both Sean Kenny and Mark Larcombe is more of an incentive to agents than a deterrent.
Imagine it - rob banks, get to keep the money and just be banned from going into banks. What would that do to bank robberies - increase them or decrease them? Increase, of course.
Real estate crime is, quite literally, a joke. Crooked real estate agents are laughing all the way to the bank.
Footnote: Following civil action instigated by the son of the elderly man who was ripped off for a million dollars, a Court recently ordered Mark Larcombe to repay the money he stole. That's a right, a civil action, taken by relatives! No such action taken by the authorities. Mark Larcombe must be thinking he got a bad deal. How unlucky was he?!
Most agents never have to repay the money they rob from the elderly. The elderly folk and their relatives can seldom afford to take civil court action. As for the authorities, well, they believe that banning bank robbers from going into banks will stop other robbers from robbing banks.
On Saturday, August 22, 2009, John Andrew King faced Parramatta Court. He was arrested at gunpoint by police on Friday. King is accused of stealing $37,000 from a bank. If convicted, he faces a lengthy jail sentence. If only John King and his bank robber mates knew what real estate agents get away with. Why take the risk and rob a bank when you can just get a real estate license and rob the elderly?
Yes, there is a huge difference between real crime and real estate crime.
Further Footnote: The word "rob" as used in the context of this article, obviously, does NOT mean the agents used violence against their victims. The definition of the word "rob" from the Macquarie Dictionary that applies in this case is - "To deprive of something legally belonging or due."