Agent who stole £350,000 in rent and deposits ordered to pay back £1

An agent who stole over £350,000 in rent and deposits to fund his ‘lavish lifestyle’ has been told to pay back £1.

Clifford Wheatcroft, 35, set up Real-Est8 Property Solutions in Bournemouth, but was declared bankrupt in 2013 when it was discovered he had not put tenants’ deposits in a protection scheme.

Several landlords were also owed rents.

Wheatcroft was interviewed by police and told them that he had used the money to keep up with other payments. However, enquiries showed he had spent £357,260 on personal items such as holidays.

Wheatcroft admitted eight counts of theft and last year he was given a 17-month sentence suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work.

It has now been discovered that he is unable to pay back the money he stole, and under the Proceeds of Crime Act, will repay only £1. He will, however, have to pay more if and when he comes into money –  whether by employment, winning the lottery, or inheritance.

Judge Stephen Climie, at Bournemouth Crown Court, told Wheatcroft that the Proceeds of Crime order will be with him for the rest of his life.

He said: “He is not getting away with just paying £1 and it’s important that is known at a public hearing.”

Dorset police said that there had been a lengthy and complex investigation, with a number of victims.

https://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/17527554.estate-agent-stole-350000-to-fund-lavish-lifestyle/

 

 

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7 Comments

  1. PossessionFriendUK39

    ” Judge said – he is not getting away with it ”  !!!

    Pretty much looks like he is from where I’m standing.

    Seize his house, let him rent on benefits.

    Report
    1. CountryLass

      And why should someone who actually NEEDS that housing benefit be pushed down the list? I get where you are coming from, but he should go right to the bottom of the list.

      This is a situation of his own making, that has negatively affected who-knows how many innocent people.

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      1. qweasdzxc

        And why should someone who actually NEEDS that housing benefit be pushed down the list?

        Is there a list for housing benefit? I thought if you qualified, you got it.

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  2. GeorgeHammond78

    So, it’s taken 6 years to get to this point – no wonder the money has disappeared……

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  3. IWONDER36

    Set a real deterrent there judge!

    The potential penalties are heavier for an innocent agent not knowing that a stranger may have previously earned his/her money from ill-gotten gains.

    Hang on a minute!

    Shouldn’t the travel agents or airlines who allowed him to use stolen money to book luxury holidays be investigated in the same way an estate agent would, even though they couldn’t have possibly known, don’t have a crystal ball, or employ Mystic Meg?

    Let alone all the other businesses through which that money has entered the system.

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  4. Lil Bandit

    Throw away the key!!!!!!!

     

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  5. Paul Shamplina

     
    The outcome of this case is absolutely ridiculous; the punishment simply doesn’t fit the crime. The reputation of the private rented sector, and in particular letting agents, is undermined by the small minority of unscrupulous agents, like Real-Est8 Property Solutions, who steal from their clients, and yet a case like this simply gives carte blanche for others to follow in their footsteps.

    Applying pressure on the already stretched resources of Trading Standards to assist police with evidence to take action against rogue agents is difficult enough.  But with such a lenient outcome for such a serious case, I question where the deterrent or the justice is?

    I’ve campaigned for 15 years for Client Money Protection (CMP) to be mandatory and I’m thrilled it is finally coming into force from 1st April, but this is just one element of prevention, it is not the cure.

    Many consumers simply don’t understand what it means or how it affects them until it’s too late, which is why I have been working closely with Channel 5 to shed more light on cases such as these (due to be aired later this year).

    Consumers need a greater understanding of what CMP is and why it’s important to use an agent which has it, but there also needs to be much tougher sanctions for rogues who will continue to operate while ever business is coming their way.

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