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Crooked letting agent had a Land Rover, Porsche and a Florida home

A crooked letting agent took £220,000 from tenants and landlords and has been exposed as buying a home in Florida, renting a luxury apartment, spending £3,000 on a flight to New York, and owning both a Land Rover and a Porsche.

A court in Plymouth has heard that Heather Crabb, who owned and operated Drake Homes lettings agency from 2005 until 2016, deflected criticism from landlords and student tenants who were out of pocket by threatening them with legal action for defamation as rumours swirled around her business.

Crabb also used some of her lettings clients’ money to set up another business, a tanning salon elsewhere in Plymouth.

Now she has been formally accused of committing theft, fraud and false accounting between March 2013 and December 2017.

Meanwhile a co-defendent who helped Crabb run the agency - Jill Wood - took £30,000 from the company to help buy a home in Exeter for her son. 

Wood has admitted false accounting, juggling money between various accounts when the students’ deposits should have been protected.

The court has heard a landlord victim of the pair say: “We feel cheated and let down by someone who abused her trusted position. Her lavish lifestyle with expensive vehicles and extravagant properties seem to have been funded by her greed and dishonesty.”

Another victim, a single mother, told the court: “This theft of rents all but sunk me. I now owe my family £14,000 I needed to stop going broke. I am furious.”

A barrister for Crabb told the court she accept she was going to receive a prison sentence, and said she admitted dishonesty but that the business also suffered mismanagement and misfortune.

“When the business went under, she lost everything. She has turned into a physical wreck, often shaking and crying when talking about this matter. She is on a cocktail of drugs” he said.

Crabb was hailed for three and a half years in prison; Wood received a 22 month sentence suspended for two years.

Prosecutors and police have launched legal action to seize Crabb’s assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

You can see local media reports here.

  • jeremy clarke

    3 1/2 years!! That means she earned c £70,000 a year dishonestly, more than I earn honestly, she'll be out in 18 months at most - what message does that send to others??

  • icon

    Absolutely Jeremy, basically the message is the all too familiar one -
    " Crime Pays "
    The only consolation will be if her assets can be stripped from her so she comes out of prison, catching a bus and renting somewhere down-market.

  • Paul Barrett

    Unfortunately cases like this make LL very cynical about the ethics of LA.
    Letting a LA have any control over deposits or rents is simply asking for trouble.
    No way if I used a LA would I permit them to have anything to do with my rent or deposit.
    LA will have to start invoicing rather than collecting rent; making deductions before sending to the LL.
    LA simply can't be trusted currently.
    Until LA are made legally liable for rent and deposits even if they do a runner.
    There must be insurance to cover a LA doing a runner.

    jeremy clarke

    Paul Barrett, CMP is the answer, compulsory for all agents from 1st April but no doubt as in any industry there will will be those that operate below the radar!
    Possession friend UK, let's hope that her poor credit history and conviction means that she can never rent a property via a reputable agency or landlord.

     
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