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Crooked letting agent must repay thousands from his own pension

A crooked lettings agent has been ordered to repay thousands of pounds from his pension.

As previously reported on Letting Agent Today Russell Baker ran Ashby’s in Bovey Tracey, Devon, but stole from landlords and tenants an estimated £400,000 in deposits. 

Some weeks ago he received a suspended jail sentence but now a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing has ruled he should pay back £6,542 from his pension to some of his victims.

He has already paid back £123,000 by selling off land.

The Devon Live news website quotes Steve Gardiner, the investigations manager for Devon and Somerset Trading Standards, saying : “It is a good amount of money to go back after a very long and painstaking Proceeds of Crime investigation.

“It does mean some of the money Baker took from his victims will be recovered and there will be a reasonable amount of compensation.

“And if Mr Baker comes into money in the future there is a potential to revisit the assets.”

Baker was given 20 months in jail, suspended for two years at the original sentencing. He was also told to do 160 of unpaid work.

He admitted nine offences of fraud.

The offences took place in 2013 and 2014 following several years of declining business. 

In January, 2013, he borrowed £15,000 from a former client. The money was paid into a business account but he transferred £5,000 into his personal account on the same day.

Over the next 20 months he borrowed sums between £2,000 and £25,000 from friends and neighbours.

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    Presumably had he been a licensed lettings agent then, like us, he would have had to submit his accounts for proper audit and approval by NAEA which would have made this all much less likely to have happened. and he would have had compulsory client money protection insurance. The sooner all Lettings agents are licensed the better.

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    An ARLA licensed agent with two offices in Pontefract and Castleford ran off with hundreds of thousands of landlords money a few years back. I rang ARLA in advance of this happening to tip them off and their response “we won’t do anything until after it has happened”. WOW. Absolute carnage to sort out with both landlords and tenants having to sort out between themselves! ARLA. Waste of time!

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