Six letting agents have all pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud.
The Ham & High says they were all employees of Barnet agency Churchill Residential: the six are named as Corinne Marcus, Martin Marcus, Nadim Khan, Stacey Heffernan, Michael Page and James Day.
The defendants all face five counts of fraud, with Corinne Marcus facing an additional charge of money laundering. The charges allege that the group let out properties without the permission of owners, keeping the rent themselves; they also allegedly encouraged multiple tenants to pay deposits for the same properties which were not put into appropriate deposit protection schemes.
The trial at Harrow Crown Court is expected to last six weeks but the Ham & High has reported on the opening days of the case.
Gordon Menzies, for the prosecution, described their alleged actions this way: “Tenants would hand over money to the property and that money would disappear into the business. The company assured clients it would put their money in a ‘ring-fenced client account’ but if you look at this ‘client account’, it was used for coffee shops, underground stations, EasyJet tickets, transactions made in Spain and Virgin Active memberships”
He went on to say: “Often the tenants would not even get a property. Many got nothing. Some got a cheque from Mrs Marcus’s bank account which then bounced. It was not clever but it was fraud and it worked.”
All have pleaded not guilty.