A former South Coast radio host who allegedly owes over $140,000 to small businesses across Australia has also been accused of pressuring a teenager without a license into chauffeuring him during a road trip across Australia. The boy claims the music industry con man also threatened him.
The 16-year-old, who the Sydney Morning Herald calls Tom, identified Dene Broadbelt from photos shared on a support group for people affected by the alleged con man, as his boss for about four months last year. Broadbelt is believed to be behind the Paramount Agency debacle.
Tom’s father, a former policeman from the Central Coast, told Fairfax that Broadbelt convinced him to pull Tom out of school in October to work as a paid assistant for Aquaholic Photography. Among Broadbelt’s many broken promises were that his son would be paid a wage of $25 an hour.
Tom was paid only a few times at $12 an hour and Tom and his father allege Broadbelt owes wages totalling at least $5,000. “It’s hard to get one over me,” said Tom’s father. “But he bluffed me by saying he’d get Tom into a traineeship and he talked up all sorts of courses he’d get him doing.”
Tom alleges that Broadbelt reserved hire cars in Sydney for trips to South and Western Australia, rebranding them with the name of his companies. Tom says Broadbelt then pressured him into driving for more than half of the 4,000-kilometere trip, even though he was only 15 and unlicensed.
Though he reportedly witnessed Broadbelt fraudulently obtaining camera equipment, Tom claims he did not realise Broadbelt’s practices were dubious and feared losing his job if he spoke up. He also claims that on one occasion, Broadbelt threatened him. “One time I remember asking him if he was legit and he pulled the car over and said, ‘Ask me that again and I’ll hit you,'” Tom recounts.
Tom was effectively fired after Tom’s father reportedly confronted Broadbelt about unpaid wages and unsatisfactory treatment during a phone call to Perth, where Broadbelt claimed he was working for Monster Trucks Promotions. Tom was put onto a flight home soon after the conversation.
Despite more and more victims coming to the fore, some who’ve interacted with Broadbelt claim little is being done to apprehend him. NSW Police have confirmed they are aware of Broadbelt and are appealing for information, while NSW Fair Trading claim to be making their own inquiries.
“If somebody knocked off $5000 from a bank, they’d be prosecuted for it, there’s no way someone would get away with that. But this guy seems to get away with it,” Steve Kantek, the financial controller at Sydney-based camera retailer Paxton, told the Sydney Morning Herald.