Family trust betrayed by con man Lemuel Page

STUNG: Greg and Leanne Slaney are out of pocket more than $70,000 from dealings with their niece’s long-term partner Lemuel Page. Picture: Simone De Peak

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SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONThe big talkerLies that lie beneathGem of a tall talePainful lessonTaken to the cleanersDigging for truthCreditors in Greek tragedyWhen fraud hits homeA mother’s plea to daughterWHEN Greg and Leanne Slaney met their niece’s new boyfriend at a family function more than 10 years ago, they had no idea they’d just met the man who wouldalmost cripple them financially.

The Slaneys took Lemuel Pageat face value.

“We never had any call to say we shouldn’t trust Lemuel,” Mrs Slaney said. “We knew he was an entrepreneur and we knew he had a lot of money. Well, that’s what he told everyone.”

Page wenton family holidays to Forster with the Slaneys, he talkedabout business dealsand eventually offeredMr Slaney work as a builder on one of hisdevelopment projects. Everything wentall right for a while.

Then in 2010, Page proposeda development opportunity, asking the Slaneys to invest in public housing properties in Stannet Street,Waratah West, that he claimedcould only bepurchased through him because he wasa “low-income housing provider”.

He askedthem for $66,000. They couldafford$33,000. He toldthem it wasgoing into the “trust account” of a Newcastle real estate agent.

What the Slaneys didn’tdiscover until much later was that the houses weren’tfor sale. The deal didn’t exist. Like many of Page’s stories, it was a fantasy -all promise, but full of failure.

“He kept saying that we were family and that he’dlook after us,” Mr Slaney said. “He looked after us all right, he took the money and we never saw it again.”

Then afinal payment, of $44,000, on a job Mr Slaney was doing for Page at Samdon Street, Hamilton, failed to arrive.

“It caused so much stress for us, I ended up begging him for the money. And I don’t beg,” Mr Slaney said. “It was our money and we just wanted what we were owed. It caused huge problems in our wider family, it’s been an absolutenightmare.”

The Slaneys were eventually given three cheques -all of which bounced.

“He would tell the rest of the family that is was all sorted or say Greg was a dodgy builder,” Mrs Slaney said. “He’d use every excuse under the sun to get out of paying us.

“We were family, that’s what hurt the most.

“We trusted him.”

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