Barnet letting agents pleads guilty to rental scam worth hundreds of thousands

Photo: Joe Giddens

Photo: Joe Giddens - Credit: PA WIRE

A north London letting agent has pleaded guilty to conning tenants and landlords out of hundreds and thousands in rental scams.

Martin Marcus changed his plea at Harrow Crown Court to guilty of five counts of fraud. His wife, Corinne, was acquitted of her charge of money laundering after Mr Marcus told the jury he controlled her bank account.

The remaining four defendents - employees of the once named Churchill Residential letting agents - Nadim Khan, Stacey Heffernan, Michael Page and James Day, still face the five charges.

The trial opened two weeks ago when the jury heard of the “dishonest” ploy to trick people in north west London.

Gordon Menzies, speaking for the prosecution, opened the case, saying: “This is case that could be described as fraud, dishonesty or stealing.

“Tenants would hand over money to the property and that money would disappear into the business.

“The company assured clients it would put their money in a ‘ring-fenced client account’ but if you look at this ‘client account’, it was used for coffee shops, underground stations, EasyJet tickets, transactions made in Spain and Virgin Active memberships.

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“Often the tenants would not even get a property. Many got nothing. It was not clever but it was fraud and it worked.”

The group are accused of renting out properties without the permission of the owner and pocketing the rent themselves, as well as encouraging multiple tenants to pay deposits for the same properties which they failed to put into appropriate deposit protection scheme.

Mr Menzies added: “One tenant’s rent was being paid by the housing benefit scheme so you would assume that at least this money would go to the landlord, but no, it went into the business. This is dishonest.”

The company’s name has changed numerous times and has included Corporate Relocations, A&A Properties, Churchill Residential, JMJ Residential LTD, and Anthony Grant.

The defence of the remaining defendants is due to open next week.