A man who posed as a letting agent to swindle landlords and tenants has been jailed for just over two years.
Legal reporting service Court News says Adam Coote, 36, started a scam with Andrew Rickard, 51, and Sahila Kauser, 34, in 2012 after being released from prison for a similar previous offence.
Coote - also known as Elliott Wilson - used fake agencies with names including Belgravia Property Group, Mayfair Residential and Park Lane Residential to offer properties in London, Bristol, Birmingham and Walsall. His scam involved tenants handing over six months rent up front only to find the ‘agent’ had seemingly vanished with their cash.
Coote, who is also known as Elliott Wilson, was jailed for 28 months at Southwark Crown Court; Rickard and Kauser had previously been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and 18 months imprisonment suspended for two years respectively.
Coote was jailed for four years in August 2009 for a very similar scam in Liverpool and Manchester.
Court News says that in the earlier case he used the profits to buy an apartment which had a £2,000 fridge with built in television, and to fund a lifestyle which included a chauffeur driven Range Rover and trips to London for dinner at Claridge’s.
Coote met Rickard in prison and after being released began targeting properties being let online.
Warwick Tatford, prosecuting, said: “The defendants were able to secure access to the properties and keys and a number of prospective tenants would then be shown around the properties.”
Potential tenants were encouraged to hand Coote and his associates deposits only to be told they had failed credit checks. The fraudsters then told the tenants that the landlord was happy for them to move in provided they paid the first six months rent.
“‘Prospective tenants were provided with access keys of the properties and when they attended to move into the property they would find there was already a tenant in place who had also signed a tenancy with the company” said Tatford.
Court News says the fraudsters made £26,585 from the scam - this is likely to be the subject of compensation and confiscation proceedings next year.