A former letting agent from Kettering has been ordered to pay a confiscation order of over £1m made under the Proceeds of Crime Act - one of the biggest orders of its kind made against an agent in the UK.
Harpreet Garcha, who ran property lettings franchises Belvoir in Kettering, Desborough and Corby, was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison in 2016.
[Note - new owners took over the Belvoir franchises in 2014. Belvoir Property Management (UK) Ltd, the franchisor, is not the subject of any action relating to this case.]
The court heard how Garcha, now aged 41, of Kettering, fraudulently generated significant profits at the expense of tenants and landlords by dishonestly increasing the cost of maintenance and safety work.
He was also convicted of money laundering, VAT fraud and insurance fraud. The offences were committed out between 2008 and 2012.
Now a confiscation order for £1.006 million was made under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 – the largest confiscation order ever secured by Northamptonshire Trading Standards and one of the biggest ever secured against an agent in the UK.
Of that, £51,000 will be paid out in compensation to Garcha’s former tenants and landlords who were victims of his offences.
Garcha will face up to seven years in prison if the order is not paid in full.
“This is an amazing result for Trading Standards and reflects the hard work of the officers involved in carrying out both the criminal and financial investigation” says a council spokesperson.
Garcha’s fraudulent business practices first came to the attention of Trading Standards when a landlady made a complaint about being overcharged for routine maintenance at her rented home in Kettering.
Upon querying the cost of safety checks, she had been provided with invoices for £502.50 – these were fakes as the contractor doing the work had only charged £166.25.