Muswell Hill fraudster spared jail over scam which left couple homeless
PUBLISHED: 16:55 16 December 2016 | UPDATED: 16:55 16 December 2016
Sotiris Charalambous, 47, took part in the 'thoroughly mean fraud' which involved advertising a bogus property to fleece prospective tenants
The victims, a couple in their 20s, were lured in after spotting the property in Natal Road, Bounds Green, advertised for rent on Gumtree in June 2015.
Having spoken to a man purporting to be the landlord, the pair then met the fake owner and handed him £4,500 for a deposit and one month’s rent up front.
However, when the couple later turned up on the agreed moving day on 8 July 2015, they were shocked to find the locks had been changed and other tenants were living inside.
Having seen their savings depleted by the con, the pair were left homeless.
Officers from FALCON, the Met’s response to Fraud and Linked Crime Online, investigated and identified Christos Loizou, 45, as the bogus landlord and charged him with fraud.
Charalambous, of Muswell Hill Road, had previously lived at the property and was also charged with fraud and money laundering.
Each denied the offences, blaming each other in their police interview.
After a week-long trial at Wood Green Crown Court, both men were found guilty before the latter was handed a six-month jail term, suspended for 18 months.
Loizou, of Knotts Green Road, Leyton, also walked free from court after his six-month sentence was also suspended.
Judge Nicholas Browne, QC, ordered the duo to repay the £4,500 lost by the victims along with £1,000 costs and an £80 surcharge each.
After clawing back the money in time for Christmas, the couple thanked police, saying: “That’s great news.”
DC Paul Allgood from FALCON, said: “The judge described this crime as a ‘thoroughly mean fraud’; the victims were left homeless and on the streets after having been conned into handing over all their savings.
“I’m pleased that just before Christmas they have now had their money handed back to them.”