17 August 2020

How I avoided Australia’s largest Property Scam

Life Lessons in Luck
A Reflection from Ryve Property Founder Ryan Vear

For me 2014 was a great year – property had rebounded strongly after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008/2009 and I was ready to jump into another project. After attending a few property seminars, I had found the next project, well two actually, because I liked them so much! 

They seemed exceptional: promoting sustainable living, community gardens, and architecturally designed by Fender Katsalidas. Contracts were signed and the $1000 holding deposits paid on each.

However, when the contracts arrived at my solicitor’s office, she called to advise that there would be additional charges as they were so lengthy. I had some questions of my own for the developers, so I advised my solicitor that I would read over the contracts myself first. They sure were lengthy! 

This was a fortunate move, as I now knew the details of the contracts inside out and allowed me to email off a series of questions1 (click here to read corresponding emails) to the salesman. Nothing had been mentioned in the contract about the world renown designer and for me, this fact represented a fair proportion of the properties’ value, so I started to research and ask questions.  The response from Fender Katsalidis office was surprising, I was told they had only been engaged to do some marketing material for the sales company and nothing else. 

I was put off knowing that the developers most likely may end up using an architect that potentially isn’t world renowned; however, as there were many other aspects, I liked about the development I didn’t let this fact sway me.

The following week I was in talks again with the salesman and discussing the deposit. The salesman stated that they don’t accept Bank Bonds, but I knew the contract inside out and nowhere was this stated. I informed the salesman that legally he must accept bank bonds for both 20% deposits (totalling just over $190,000) as the contract does not state that you won’t.

I had all the facts and knew the contracts inside out after spending most of the weekend reading over them. I stood my ground on the matter and advised that the contract would be null and void if they did not accept bank bonds for the deposits, and I would request that my holding deposits be refunded. After a few heated conversations and a few weeks later, I was successful in finally getting back my holding deposits.

Fast forward to the summer of 2019, when a colleague of mine rang, calling to say that her and her partner were looking at some investment properties in Bendigo (regional Victoria) and asked if I knew much about the area. I didn’t have any properties in the area although was reminded of the contracts I had signed for back in 2014. I thought the sustainable living, community gardens and architecturally designed developments would be quite interesting for her to view.  “Right up your alley” I told her.  I could recall the estate and even the street name, which I rattled off to her, and said take a look. It’s now been 5 years, so the development will be finished and well worth a look, and I asked her to take some photos for my own interest. 

She called back within 30 minutes and said she was at the address I gave her, but she believes I gave her the wrong address. I assured her it was the right address, and then my phone beeped as she had sent a photo with the street sign, and a lot of vacant sandy land. “Impossible” I said! I quickly started researching the development and “boom” immediately I found page after page returned with ASIC rulings, court proceedings, news articles.  Titles like “Millions Lost” riddled the pages! 

It was a scam3 (Read the article here). I had almost lost 190k and for the last 5 years was none the wiser. Over 100 Million had been extorted from investors across three development sites. As read in the article above Foscari was part of a network of land banking schemes into which mum and dad investors tipped as much as $100 million since 2010. The schemes are now being liquidated following a Federal Court ruling in April”.

The development called Foscari was located in Melbourne’s growth corridor in Truginina(read the article here) which in reality was an old tip, and the headlines were of the council saying that they would never grant building over that landA Kaye-linked business, Foscari Holdings, bought the property – which had been used as an illegal dump – for $3.3 million in 2012.”2 recorded in the article here.

Another development called Hermitage on the outskirts in Bendigo4 (Read the article here) and a third called Veneziane in Melton4  (Read more) in Melbourne. All scams never intended to be built!


The lesson?
Do your research, diligently.  Had they excepted my bank bonds, then eventually I would have received my money back, all be it 5 years later. Unfortunately, for all those other investors though, their money is now long gone.



  1. Ryan Vear’s email questions from 2014 (PDF)

  2. Schneiders, B., Millar, R. and Johanson, S., 2016. Central Equity Swoops On Henry Kaye Property As Land Banking Scam Implodes. [online] The Sydney Morning Herald. Available at: <https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/central-equity-swoops-on-henry-kayes-masterpiece-site-20161011-grzh3t.html> [Accessed 12 August 2020].


  3. Johanson, S., Millar, R. and Schneiders, B., 2016. Failed Bendigo Land Bank Linked To Property Spruiker Jamie Mcintyre On The Market. [online] The Sydney Morning Herald. Available at: <https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/failed-bendigo-land-bank-linked-to-property-spruiker-jamie-mcintyre-on-the-market-20160503-goklyh.html> [Accessed 13 August 2020].


  4. Staff Reporter, 2018. $15 Million Land Banking Schemes, Hermitage Bendigo And Veneziane To Be Wound Up. [online] Propertyobserver.com.au. Available at: <https://www.propertyobserver.com.au/forward-planning/investment-strategy/property-news-and-insights/87294-15-million-land-banking-schemes-hermitage-bendigo-and-veneziane-to-be-wound-up.html> [Accessed 13 August 2020].


  5. Agostino, E., 2018. Court Orders Companies Involved In Land Banking Schemes Be Wound Up. [online] Bendigo Advertiser. Available at: <https://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/5555346/court-orders-companies-involved-in-land-banking-schemes-be-wound-up/> [Accessed 13 August 2020].


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