A YOUNG conman who tried to hire staff and buy vehicles and services for a proposed south-west Victorian real estate agency has seemingly gone to the bizarre extreme of a fake media announcement pretending he died by suicide at the weekend.
Dene Broadbelt, 21, who has used several aliases for a string of dubious business ventures and unpaid debts across Australia, raised suspicions in the Timboon region during the past few weeks with his bold plans and brash style.
His guise was blown on Monday night by two young Timboon district men who, after discovering his past, confronted him via social media.Soon afterwards Broadbelt’s telephone number was disconnected and his Facebook site closed.
Then on Tuesday evening the radioinfo website received an email from a Jason Blackford, announcing “the sad news that Dene Broadbelt died unexpectedly on Saturday night when he took his own life. There is to be a memorial service held ASAP.”
The website editor ran it in good faith, but removed it yesterday after information came to light about Broadbelt being seen alive in Timboon after his supposed death.
He was in a local café conducting job interviews on Sunday and was responding to social media conversations on Monday. Where he is now is anyone’s guess.
“He’ll definitely pop up again somewhere else,” said film director Noel Sadler, who is spokesman for the Dene Broadbelt Support Group for victims.
“He will not give up till he has the appropriate help with his issues.” Radioinfo editor Peter Saxon said judging by public feedback it appeared the “suicide” email was probably written by Broadbelt.
“We took the story down saying we hadn’t been able to verify the source,” Mr Saxon said.
Yesterday, The Standard gleaned more fascinating information on Broadbelt’s movements in the Timboon district, which started late last month when he began recruiting young adults to work for him.
Using the alias Harrison Eyles, the managing director of business called Coast and Country Real Estate, he conducted face-to-face interviews and trawled through Facebook to recruit prospective employees.
On several occasions he left his business card, bearing the name Harrison O’Connor.
He attended a meeting of the Timboon Action Group to touch base with local business operators and in a subsequent letter to the association said he wanted to open an agency that mirrored Melbourne-style agencies.
In his letter he claimed the local market was “over-saturated by respectfully older-style agents and agencies with old ideas and values” and that “my competitors are playing golf twice a week or bowls”.
He claimed to be the owner and founder of the business. However, investigations revealed he does not hold a Victorian real estate licence.
One of his prospective employees checked out Broadbelt’s claim of having a father who was an established real estate agent and found the person was actually a 28-year-old whose only commonality was the surname Eyles.
“I thought he was dodgy from the start,” the prospective employee said.
“On Monday night when we figured it out we sent him a message saying we knew about his past. Fifteen minutes later his phone was down and his Facebook page gone.”
One Timboon business operator said Broadbelt “wasted a lot of our time” in seeking quotes from tradespeople about prospective alterations to a shop he indicated he would lease in the centre of town.
He also placed tentative orders for three new vehicles from a local dealership and made inquiries about a premises in Port Campbell.
The Dene Broadbelt Support Group has 118 members who have been affected by his actions. He allegedly has debts for unpaid goods and services across the nation, but has never been charged in court.
The Standard understands he successfully applied for bankruptcy listing debts of about $250,000.
-Support is available for you or someone you know suffering an emotional crisis by phoning Lifeline 13 11 14; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline; 1800 551 800.