A former letting agent has pleaded guilty of nine offences of fraud involving the retention of deposits and rents belonging to landlords.
Russell Baker from Ilsington near Newton Abbot in Devon - a former agent at Ashby’s letting agency - was investigated by Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service after complaints relating to tenants deposits, and whether they had been paid into a government approved scheme.
Some landlords also alleged that rental income was not passed to them.
The Exeter Daily online news service reports that one landlord tried to sue the agent privately but Baker managed to convince a civil court that the debt was a company debt rather than a personal one.
The service says Baker’s financial dealings were 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.
Baker has now pleaded guilty to amount to £157,250 worth of fraud, but sentencing has been deferred until September to allow the former agent time to reimburse the victims under a restraint order made under the Proceeds of Crime Act.