A fraudster who posed as a letting agent with the sole intention of stealing from landlords and tenants has been jailed for almost two and a half years, seven years after being imprisoned for a similar letting scam.
Adam Coote, 36, from Shoreditch, London, was sentenced to 28 months in prison at Southwark Crown Court on Friday for conning landlords and tenants out of tens of thousands of pounds by using fake agencies with names such as Belgravia Property Group, Mayfair Residential and Park Lane Residential to offer properties in London, Bristol, Birmingham and Walsall that he had no intention of letting.
Coote, along with his accomplices, Andrew Rickard, 51, and Sahila Kauser, 34, who were handed suspended sentences of 18 months each, persuaded prospective tenants to hand over up to six months’ worth of rent before informing them that they had failed credit checks, and then making off with their money. The group stole more than £26,500 in total.
Coote started the operation four years ago after being released from a four-year prison sentence for carrying out the same con in Liverpool and in Manchester.
Police discovered the fraudulent activity after acting on a tip-off.
Prosecutor Warwick Tatford said: “In its simplest form the fraud involved establishing false letting agencies which would be used to approach landlords who were selling properties on the internet.
“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.
“Prospective tenants were provided with access keys of the properties and when they intended to move into the property they would find there was already a tenant in place who had also signed a tenancy with the company.”
This case highlights the fact that those seeking to let out or rent property should perhaps be wary of using the internet, according to Judge Jeffrey Pegden QC.
“It was plainly a persistent fraud and it was plainly significantly planned,” he said.