She was happily married, had three beautiful daughters and a home. But as Trish Jenkins was to discover: “While success attracts opportunities. It also attracts opportunists.”
Brisbane wife and mother of three, Trish Jenkins (pictured), was a successful entrepreneur with a multi-million dollar investment portfolio, when she began working for currency trader, Brett Best.
Trish heard about Brett Best’s investment scheme through a friend and consulted a financial adviser as part of what she believed was thorough research, before giving him money to invest. The agreement was that she would loan him a sum of money, he would invest it and deliver her a return of 5 per cent interest every month.
Along with her first month’s return, Best asked Trish to work for him, saying he was “too busy” and needed her help.
“I assisted him by taking the money from the investors and passing it on to him,” said Trish, 43. “He would then give me the interest and I would return it to them [investors] each month.”
But when the monthly interest payments for investors stopped coming after 18 months, Trish made a very costly mistake that would see her charged for breaching the Corporations Act.
While Brett Best was literally gambling everyone’s money away, Trish was left to deal with an increasing number of irate investors.
Trish explains: “I caved under the pressure and figured if I used a new investor’s money in a one-off relief payment to existing investors it would help until things got back to normal with the markets, which turned out to be a breach of the Corporations Act.”
“I knew it was wrong, but I just wanted to fix things,” Trish told the Herald Sun in 2012.
On the advice of her lawyers she went into voluntary liquidation. All her properties were sold but Trish maintains that she was unable to repay the $132,000 she owed to investors because all the money went to pay for her lawyers.
After ripping off more than 200 investors of around $16 million, Best was reported to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) who launched an investigation. Best was sentenced to 13-years jail in 2009, to be suspended after four years and four months.
For her part in the scheme, Trish was sentenced to a term of two-and-a-half years in prison, to be suspended after eight months. She served her 8 months at the Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre.
Trish says her imprisonment was responsible for her having a new outlook on life and rather than tearing them apart, the experience has actually brought her family closer together.
“Prison is nothing but damaging and tears apart most families. But it really comes down to how you look at it, and I had to take responsibility for my actions and find the lesson in it. In every darkness and every adversity there is a treasure to be found,” she said.
“I had to choose whether prison would poison the next generation or choose to model to my daughters how to get back up again in life. It was my children who were my primary motivation to take positives from all of this. I decided to use what I had learned from living with the other prisoners for so long.”
After her release from prison, Trish penned three books, including a memoir Treasures of Darkness: A Prison Journey.
She also became a Keynote Speaker. Sharing what she has learned with everyone from single mums to pensioners, Trish speaks openly about her time in prison, overcoming adversity and how to avoid being scammed.
“I explain that a victim of crime is selected by the predator – it’s never random,” says Trish.
“If you are openly passionate about the need for certain things in your life, like financial freedom or love, guard those areas carefully because they become your weak points when a predator is trying to gain your trust and friendship to manipulate you.”
Warning Signs you may be dealing with a con artist
- They become elusive once they have your money or property.
- They make you feel special to be involved with them, claiming to possess exclusive knowledge or skills.
- They don’t mind fudging the figures on documents, for example, on loan applications.
- They place heavy emphasis on confidentiality, like it is privileged information.
- They use excuses to say they cannot access their assets, such as court procedures.
Trish Jenkins will be speaking on conflict management for the Executive Assistant Network Brisbane 2013 Congress on September 25. For more information about Trish visit her website: www.trishjenkins.com.au