Consumer Affairs Victoria has suspended the real estate licence of Masakali Estate Agents principal Luke Hemmings.
The suspension took place late on Wednesday evening, after a series of articles appeared in The Courier.
The licence was suspended after an investigation by CAV into Hemmings’s past, and the suspension of his licence in the Northern Territory.
It comes as an examination of Mr Hemming’s past reveals a pattern of disturbing behaviour and outright dishonesty.
A claim made on the Masakali Estate Agents site that the company was in ‘partnership’ with Brisbane-based homeless charity Orange Sky has been flatly denied by the charity.
‘Masakali Estate Agents have partnered with the Orange Sky, Australia to raise funds for the foundation who are helping to positively connect our friends in need through free laundry, showers and conversation. We are proud to donate a percentage of Property Sales & Management Fees to Orange Sky Australia.’ the website reads.
But in a telephone interview with The Courier, an Orange Sky spokesperson said Masakali and Hemmings had nothing to do with the charity in any way, and the charity had been contacted by Consumer Affairs Victoria to warn them of the claims made by Hemmings.
“He is not a partner, not a donor, not a supporter,” said the spokesperson.
Hemmings has in the past attempted to set up real estate businesses, photographic and film companies and music festivals, leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars of unpaid bills in his wake and damaging the reputations of those caught in his schemes.
When Ballarat resident Louise first encountered the person now known as Luke Hemmings in 2017, she was running a cafe in Lakes Entrance.
Louise says he came into the cafe for breakfast regularly and was very charming and polite to her staff. After he returned to Sydney, a giant hamper of food and wine was sent to the business, praising its service.
Shortly after, Hemmings returned to Lakes Entrance with plans for a real estate agency, asking Louise for assistance. He was handing out petrol cards and flight vouchers – none of which had been paid for, as Louise discovered later.
“The hamper was full of champagne and chocolate,” Louise told The Courier.
I remember thinking it was a bit over the top for serving him breakfast. And it hadn’t been paid for.Louise
What was to follow surprised Louise, but The Courier has since spoken to a number of people who have been subjected to Luke Hemmings’ willingness to use charm to get his way – and then threats when he is challenged over his behaviour.
Louise’s brother ran a film and video company in the district, and he was approached by Hemmings with a business plan to promote the upcoming agency launch by going into partnership. At the same time, Hemmings went to the local surf lifesaving club to book a ‘gala opening’ months in advance, which would be a grand, cocktail-themed affair.
“He gave me a $700 Flight Centre voucher,” Louise says.
“He asked me lots of questions about my business, and said we could work together and make money. I became very suspicious. When I checked on the voucher, the Flight Centre people said I couldn’t use it as it had never been paid for.”
It turned out not paying for things was a consistent habit of Luke Hemmings. Noel Sadler had a film production company called Skip Films on the NSW north coast.
In 2013 he was contracted by Hemmings, then known as Dene Broadbelt, to produce a television commercial and behind-the-scenes video for a business known as Aquaholic Photography. The shoot took place in central NSW, and was completed on time and to Broadbelt’s satisfaction.
It was then Noel Sadler’s problems started. Advising Broadbelt he would not release the videos without payment, he was told the $2500 owed had been transferred to his account. It never arrived.
“I phoned Dene to advise him no money had reached the account,” Mr Sadler told The Courier.
“At this time Dene was being very hard, if not impossible to reach, and all correspondence was now with one of his staff. (I later found out he never paid her wages.)
“A staff member then advised me, under the instructions of Dene, there must have been a problem with the bank as they could see the money had left their business account.
“I used a CBA contact to have a look at his account and was advised I had been lied to about the money leaving his account. I was then advised by Dene’s staff that it would take a number of weeks to sort out the problem with the bank.”
Mr Sadler arranged to meet Broadbelt, who brazenly suggested they merge companies – a suggestion he rejected. Realising he had been conned, he gave Broadbelt an ultimatum – pay within the hour or he would reveal the extent of Broadbelt’s fraud.
He has since spent his time helping reveal exactly how Broadbelt/Hemmings operates.
“I found out that Dene never paid for the motel account in Orange and the account for catering,” Mr Sadler said. “This created some damage to my own business (in terms of reputation).”
True to his word, Mr Sadler exposed the next chapter of Broadbelt’s ventures, as he became Dene Mussillon and a music festival director.
Attempting to set up the ‘Infinity Music Festival’ in Narromine, Wellington, Dubbo and Darwin, Mussillon was thwarted by Mr Sadler informing the local council of his previous operations.
He then received death threats from someone purporting to be Dene Mussillon’s mother, warning he would ‘get a bullet’ and his house would be burnt down.
At the time Mr Sadler passed the threats onto police.
“I have small children that live at home also,” he said to the NT News.
“You can’t treat death threats lightly as you just don’t (know) if the person will act on the threats or not.”