July 26, 2016

Net closes on rogue lettings operator

A rogue lettings agent who swindled both landlords and tenants out of more than £200,000 was recently handed a custodial sentence.

Martin Marcus, 52, of Bushey, had admitted five counts of fraud and was jailed for four and a half years.

An investigation revealed that he had often kept hold of tenants’ deposits and failed to provide a number of individuals with accommodation even after they had paid sums of money which were never refunded.

Marcus had worked for a residential lettings agent in Barnet, North London. A court hearing had heard that the defendant was responsible for “an elaborate con trick” and that he deployed a whole of excuses in order to hold on to thousands of pounds in deposits and rent.

Over a period of several years, Marcus used a variety of aliases, but his activities ultimately drew the attention of Barnet Council’s Trading Standards team.

Following a lengthy investigation, charges were brought and Marcus was finally sentenced at Harrow Crown Court last month.

Teacher Hannah Casey told the BBC that she had lost hundreds of pounds after paying a deposit, with a friend, for a flat which already had seven people living in it.

“I was devastated. I could not sleep and felt sick,” said the 27-year-old.

“He was preying on people who he thought were vulnerable, like us - two young women. But we work too hard for someone to take money like that and steal it.”

The authorities have confirmed that confiscation proceedings are now underway as part of efforts to retrieve some of the money that was never repaid to the victims.

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