Property author and educator Rick Otton has been accused of violating Australian Consumer Law by the consumer watchdog Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
The ACCC has recently initiated proceedings in the Federal Court against Otton and his company We Buy Houses Pty Ltd
for allegedly misleading consumers attending property boot camps and seminars.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said Otton misinformed hopeful investors with unrealistic strategies.
“The ACCC is concerned that the strategies promoted by We Buy Houses and Mr Otton target vulnerable consumers who don’t qualify for bank loans or who are having difficulties meeting their mortgage repayments,” he said.
Otton denied the accusation and vowed to “vigorously fight” alleged violations of Australian Consumer Law.
The ACCC alleges that Otton made representations that his seminars would teach people how to buy a house for a dollar, build portfolios without their own money invested and without new bank loans.
Costs ranged from a minimum of $2,997 for boot camp and up to $17,000 for a mentoring programme.
Otton said the allegation that his book was misleading to the public was hard to understand.
“It seems that the ACCC thinks that the public are fools, that they will take the title literally and think that they only need a dollar to buy a house,” he said.
“The ACCC is taking a literal interpretation of the title; it’s like saying the book Fifty Shades of Grey is misleading because it’s not about paint colours.”
Otton stressed consumers understood the figurative title of his book.
“My book gives people alternate ways of owning their own home, by changing how they can creatively buy and sell property,” he said.
“We aim to empower them with the knowledge that there is another, better way.”
The ACCC were seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties, permanent injunctions, corrective advertising, costs and a disqualification order against Otton.
A directions hearing was scheduled in Sydney for April 1st
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