An estate agent from Devon who conned landlords, tenants and even his friends out of a total of £157,250 has been given a suspended sentence of 20 months.
Russell Baker, 59, from Ilsington in Devon - who had worked at Ashby’s agency in the county - was also ordered to carry out 160 hours of community service.
He pleaded guilty to nine counts of fraud at a hearing earlier this year but yesterday Exeter Crown Court heard how he had "robbed Peter to pay Paul" but never repaid any of them.
Baker was desacribed as being full of remorse and that he accepted he was foolish and reckless, and that he planned to repay the money he owed by selling his home and land.
He was last year investigated by Devon and Somerset Trading Standards after complaints relating to tenants’ deposits, and whether they had been paid into any government approved scheme. Landlords also alleged that rental income was not passed to them.
Baker’s financial dealings were described as being hard to unravel because he arranged for all of the monies paid to one of his limited companies to go into the bank accounts of another of his limited companies.
The police then became involved when Baker was alleged to have pocketed a £22,500 deposit which should have gone as a client’s deposit on a house purchase.