A Southampton lettings agency owner has been jailed after defrauding landlords and tenants out of £230,000.
Andrew Whitehead has been jailed for two years after his fraudulent practices were monitored by the local council’s trading standards - local media report that he did not pass on rent to landlords and also failed to return deposits to tenants.
Instead he used some £230,000 to cover his own business and personal expenditure.
Southampton Crown Court has heard that Whitehead - who was sole director of The Flat Agency and Michael Brown’s Ltd, Property Vibe Ltd and TFAMB.COM Ltd - forged a bank statement, which he then used to give the impression his clients’ deposits were protected when in reality they were not.
The court heard he treated these funds as his own, making significant cash withdrawals and payments towards vehicle finance, mortgages and loans.
When complaints made by tenants and landlords to The Property Ombudsman were upheld, the TPO awards and compensation were unpaid. Whithead’s firms were later expelled from the redress scheme.
Whitehead pleaded guilty to three counts of fraudulently trading, one count of forging a bank statement and four counts of using forged bank statements.
You can see a report of the court hearing here.