Mortgage Miracles

Reporter: Natalie Bonjolo

Plenty of innocent customers did buy what Kate Thompson was selling as the Mortgage Broker with a heart, if you believe her own hype on this website.

"I'm much more likely to conclude a deal with a hug and a kiss rather than a handshake".

Kate Thompson was a rising star in the broking world. Last year, through her Perth business Mortgage Miracles. She signed up 325 customers for loans worth a whopping $110 million. Number four in all of Australia, a broker who could talk the talk.

The situation of Julia Eastland and Betty Hopkins is an example of how Mrs Thompson operated. The women claim she traded on their friendship, encouraging them to use the equity in their homes to borrow money and invest in new properties. Problem is in some cases, her customers' claim Mrs Thompson just took the money and as Betty and Julia say, they didn't get the property.

"I wrote out a cheque for $260,000 and gave it to Kate. I made the cheque out to Mortgage Miracles, but she told me to cross it off and put her name on it".

Betty's now lumbered with repayments of $5,000 dollars a month for a loan that's disappeared and no property to show for it. Julia's in the same predicament. On a pension of $500 dollars a fortnight, the repayment's are an impossible ask. Julia's clinging on, but Betty's defaulted and could lose her home of 23 years.

Today Tonight has learned that customers like Betty and Julia have paid Mrs Thompson at least three million dollars.

Many of these investors are pensioners. They all got loans through Kate Thompson's company. Now they're all in trouble.

Consumer rights activist Denise Brailey has investigated some of Australia's biggest finance scandals. She's now trying to unravel the collapse of Mortgage Miracles and Mrs Thompson's involvement. It's a complex, bizarre case full of twists and turns.

Kate Thompson wasn't just earning commission on loans. She was also promoting ritzy developments through a second company called Sound Property Investments. That company lists dozens of luxury townhouses and apartments, many for sale off the plans for clients who bought into these developments Mrs Thompson got a second commission.

So how was it pensioners and low income families were approved loans worth anywhere up to a million dollars? Here's how it worked.

Clients applied for a low doc loan. Into the loan would be built enough money to cover the mortgage repayments. Basically, they would borrow extra money from the bank, to pay back the bank, but that's not the half of it.

Like many, Ray and Lorna Winkworth claim they never saw the completed loan application and were never given a copy.

Since getting copies from the banks which advanced the loans, they've discovered the paperwork doesn't reflect their true incomes, or occupations.

Hundreds of loans were secured through Mortgage Miracles and no doubt Kate Thompson was making plenty of money herself. As Mortgage Professional Australia's fourth highest ranking broker, we've calculated her commissions could have been as much as

$50,000 dollars a month.

We got hold of Kate Thompson's own property portfolio and it's pretty impressive. She has more than twenty properties and many blocks of land. According to the documents they're worth more than eight million dollars.

As Julia and Betty look over these vacant blocks they can't help but wish they had never, dared to dream.

In many cases, the banks which approved the loans are the same banks which will foreclose. We contacted banks and finance companies involved with mortgage miracles and we got a range of responses. Some said there were no problems; others said they're reviewing each loan and most declined to go into specifics, giving us only a general response about their strict guidelines.

We're told the WA Fraud squad is investigating allegations of theft and fraud, while Consumer Protection has ordered Mrs Thompson to hand in her broker's licence. Mortgage Miracles is now in administration and it's likely it'll be wound up, but in spite of all of that, Mrs Thompson sent out this letter, just a couple of weeks ago.

As investigators sift through the wreckage to see what's happened to all that money Kate Thompson's customers at Mortgage Miracles can only hope and pray for their own miracle.

Contact Denise Brailey - Consumer Activist

deniseb@amnet.net.au