A hard-working family from country Victoria dreamed of winning something simple like a new car when they joined a subscription service run by Adrian ‘Mr Lambo’ Portelli.
When the call came in they had won – and could choose between $3million in cash or a $4.2million home – Kevin and Andrea Griffin rightfully thought someone was taking the mickey.
They chose the charming Victorian-style home, which sat majestically atop sprawling green hills just outside of Gisborne, north of Melbourne’s CBD, with sweeping views of the Macedon Ranges.
Andrea and Kevin Griffin couldn’t believe their luck when they won a dream home. They remain confused as to why Adrian Portelli felt the need to remove and then raffle items from within they assumed was theirs
The couple had joined Portelli’s LMCT Plus a little over 18 months earlier in the hope of picking up one of the many ‘giveaways’ the subscription company offers.
Subscribers are entered into exclusive competitions, with prizes including homes, bikes, cars and boats, and they also get offers from motor vehicle businesses.
For instance, a HSV GTS coupe is up for grabs via single ticket purchases or a monthly subscription of $19.99.
Previously from Ballarat, the Griffins had recently been forced to wind up their family plastering business, which reduced them to one income.
They had just 24 hours to make the decision that either way was about to change their lives.
The Griffins had never watched an episode of reality TV show The Block.
Nor had they ever specifically entered the competition to win it – their entry had come with the subscription.
What they knew of the prize came from promotional videos of the competition that they watched in the frantic day they had to decide on whether to take the house or the money.
The video, which was presented by News Corp Australia’s Queensland real estate news editor Elizabeth Tilley, outlined all that came with the property.
The video explained the home had been renovated by ‘Ankur and Sharon’ for Channel Nine’s The Block.
Adrian Portelli with the McLaren supercar he had hoisted into a Melbourne skyscraper
But what should have been a side-note of the presentation has now turned into an ugly spat that looks set to finish inside a Melbourne court.
‘It comes with $170,000 worth of Smeg appliances,’ Ms Tilley explained in the video.
As the clip progressed, the journalist described the furnishings of the home, stroking a velvet chair and mentioning the ‘antique furniture’.
‘This beautiful, move-in ready home could be yours – furniture all included – plus $50,000 worth of wine, for just $20 a ticket,’ Ms Tilley said.
In another video, Ms Tilley filmed one of the wine fridges with the wine inside.
Before handing over the keys to the Griffins in March, more than $100,000 of Smeg appliances and wine had been removed from the property.
Daily Mail Australia does not suggest Ms Tilley willingly participated in false advertising.
While the disappearance of the items intrigued the family, it was CCTV footage captured of Portelli, his family and friends removing the items that worried the couple.
The Griffins’ dream home in Gisborne
Luxury items are carried out of the Griffins’ home on March 10 – the day ownership passed into their hands
Portelli helps remove a smoker from the Griffin home
Wine was captured on CCTV being removed from the home
Over the past weeks, the removal of those items has turned into a public spat between Portelli and the Griffins.
Mrs Griffin told Daily Mail Australia all of the publicity for the giveaway stated everything in it came included, including $170,000 of Smeg appliances and $50,000 of wine.
While grateful for the dream home they had won, the family was disappointed the items had been removed while they were under the impression Portelli’s crew was ‘cleaning’ the house in anticipation of their arrival.
‘We are anything but ungrateful and we’ve said that all along. We even pull up at the gate now and look up and go, “Wow, that’s our house.” Like, we own that house. We are just so thankful that the dice rolled our way,’ Mrs Griffin said.
The family has big plans for the property and will hold their daughter’s wedding there in the coming months.
Mr Portelli allegedly told the Griffins he would get to the bottom of the missing items on the day they were granted access.
‘I don’t know but I’ll find out and let you know,’ he supposedly told them.
The Griffins were shocked when they saw Portelli was among the men seen picking up and taking away $100,000 worth of items, which he would later give away in another raffle.
‘That is the sole purpose that they’ve come here. They did nothing of the other stuff,’ Mr Griffin said.
‘They said [Portelli] was entitled by the terms and conditions to take what he wanted out of the house. We kept asking for these terms, but they [never arrived],’ Mrs Griffin said.
‘The only terms and conditions we’ve seen or are available are for another draw, not The Block house.’
The Griffins describe the property as a dream come true, but the experience has been soured by some allegedly questionable behaviour
A soundbar was seen being removed from the Griffin lounge
Daily Mail Australia repeatedly asked Portelli for a copy of the terms and conditions he claims applied to the Griffin giveaway, but he has refused to provide them.
The Griffins claim the prize they won never had terms and conditions attached to it.
The competition page has since vanished from the LMCT Plus website, with all current competitions now clearly accompanied by written terms and conditions.
Portelli maintains he was entitled to everything he took from the property, despite advertising the raffle as coming with the very items he helped remove.
‘The terms and conditions governing each competition hosted on our client’s website are clearly displayed for all participants, ensuring transparency and a mutual understanding of the rules and expectations involved. Furniture is clearly not included,’ Portelli told Daily Mail Australia in a statement.
The 34-year old has been at pains to dispel any notion he is not totally above board since it was revealed in May he faced criminal charges over allegations he is a hoon.
Adrian Portelli became known as ‘Mr Lambo’ after rolling into The Block auction in a sports car. He fronted court in October (pictured) over hooning allegations
Earlier this month, he told reporters outside the Sunshine Magistrates’ Court that he would rather spend tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees than pay the fine.
‘I’ve instructed the legal team not to accept any deals, and they’re relatively small charges… it doesn’t make real… sense to fight them, but lucky I’m fortunate enough to be in a position to fight them for the… principle.’
Portelli has also come under increased scrutiny over the operation of his LMCT Plus company.
Just days after fronting court, it was revealed LMCT Plus was being investigated in two states over allegations that it breaks gambling laws.
Portelli welcomed the investigation.
‘I pay six figures every week in tax; I’m happy to pay my tax. You can’t be this public and not have everything in order,’ he said.
‘I welcome anyone to come here and question, tear it apart, bring it on.’
The Herald Sun reported the company operated legally using a loophole with Portelli previously describing the structure as a ‘trade promotion’.
He would not say how many people had signed up as members of his buyers’ club, but said it was not a raffle.
‘It’s different, it’s a trade promotion. Macca’s do the same thing with their Monopoly game and Woolies do it with Ooshies; it’s to drive customers to the store,’ he said.
Portelli’s response to Daily Mail Australia this week came attached to a legal letter suggesting he was ready to defend his reputation at all costs.