Fraudulent letting agent who conned victims out of £200,000 to be jailed

Harrow Crown Court (Picture: PA Images)

Harrow Crown Court (Picture: PA Images) - Credit: PA ARCHIVE IMAGES

A letting agent who conned tenants and landlords out of more than £200,000 as part of a ‘crude fraud’ was handed a four and a half year jail sentence in a courtroom packed by victims.

Martin Marcus, of Ashfield Avenue in Bushey, who pleaded guilty during his trial to five counts of fraud, appeared at his sentencing in a pink shirt and jeans.

North-West London tenants, including a single mother, put down deposits, but were never given a property.

Landlords never received tenants’ deposits, which were not put into payment protection schemes.

They would be landed with undesirable tenants, including a family who smashed up specialist medical equipment.

Counsel for the prosecution Gordon Menzies read witness statements, including one from a woman who described how when her grandmother was dying, she was forced to “spend precious hours that should have been spent with family in the offices of Martin Marcus”...

“I will always feel guilty for that for the whole of my life”, the witness said.

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Gordon Menzies described how Mr Marcus appeared convinced that he was in fact the victim when interviewed.

But he said Mr Marcus carried out a “crude fraud” that involved a clear “abuse of power”.

Yasmin Patel for the defence argued Mr Marcus’ seeming confidence and arrogance were a “facade.”

He said the father-of-three had a multi-personality disorder and had ongoing addictions to alcohol, drugs and food.

Mr Patel said the “Jekyll and Hyde” character did not live a luxury lifestyle and instead put the money from his fraudulent activities back into his business.

“He took from Peter and gave to Paul. He tried to make his business successful,” Mr Patel said.

When sentencing Mr Marcus, Judge Newbery described how tenants were left “without a home and without their money”.

“You made false promises,” she added.

Mr Marcus’ company names have changed over the years, and have included Corporate Relocations, A&A Properties, Churchill Residential, JMG Residential Ltd and Anthony Grant.

Four of Mr Marcus’ former employees were found not guilty at a separate trial.

- For more coverage, see this week’s Ham&High.