Agent who stole tenants’ deposits to pay for gambling habit is spared jail

A letting agent who pocketed tenants’ deposits to pay for his gambling addiction and lavish lifestyle has been convicted of fraud.

Usman Khalil, of Ilford, Essex, escaped jail.

He was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment suspended for two years by Snaresbrook Crown Court after leaving at least seven victims £20,000 out of pocket.

His Honour Judge West-Knights told Khalil: “The reality was that you were gambling away your clients’ money.

“Vulnerable people, people of low income, desperate for a home, were using you as an agent of last resort.

“They gave you all their money and more.”

The prosecution follows an investigation by Trading Standards officers supported by Action Fraud and Redbridge Council’s legal team.

The probe was launched after a demonstration in 2015 by victims outside Khalil’s now defunct business, Home Hunter Properties.

The investigation found that Khalil accepted holding deposits and advance rent for properties but then made refunds with cheques which bounced – despite having sufficient cash in other accounts.

As part of the scam, Khalil advertised a string of properties that already had people living in them.

One couple, who lost thousands of pounds, were unable to pay for a deposit or rent for alternative accommodation after being conned by Khalil.

Khalil pleaded not guilty at a trial in August which was halted because he was taken ill.

He changed his plea to guilty prior to the scheduled retrial.

He was ordered to pay back £12,350 and disqualified from being a company director for seven years.

He must also seek help for his alcohol and gambling addictions.

Cllr Bob Littlewood, Redbridge cabinet member for crime, safety and community cohesion, said: “This is a major victory in our fight against rogue traders and sends a very clear message that we will not tolerate landlords and lettings agents who think they can rip off our residents and get away with it.

“The case has exposed an appalling abuse of the law and a major con artist who devastated the lives of vulnerable people desperate to find a place to live.

“I want to praise the commitment of our Trading Standards and legal teams who worked extremely hard over three years to bring this case to court and secure an important conviction.

“We are serious and determined about improving standards in the private housing sector and will continue to take tough action wherever we discover illegal activity.”

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7 Comments

  1. GPL

     

    Sorry, it’s simply wrong.

     

    Christmas or not. You STOLE peoples money. Simply STOLE IT!

     

    Pay it all back, with Compensation, in which case you don’t get a Longer Sentence!

     

    Not Bah Humbag, just reality!

     

     

     

     

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  2. Woodentop

    Why do we continue with this nonsense of feeling sorry for the criminal? If they showed “intent” at the time of the theft/fraud …. off to jail and throw the key away, for often the attitude they have towards their victims is they don’t give a stuff. Our society is becoming to liberal and soft … unless you are a landlord!

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  3. new life

    Where is the deterent to these crimes suspended sentence and they havent even had to pay back the full ammount of the money they stole the law is a joke

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  4. Anonymous Coward

    I just don’t get this at all – surely the man should spend some time in jail.

    There is the issue of a gambling addiction being considered a disease that, if not completely curable, is manageable with the right help.

    However, drug addicts end up in jail because of the crimes they commit to feed their addiction.

    Surely the same should be true of gambling addicts…?

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  5. Thomas Flowers

    Agent takes advantage of pre-paid/deferred fees in his accumulated multi-million pound loss-making company which facilitated a stable of racing horses and a football club whilst many 1000s of his customers lost on average £1000 plus for a ‘proper’ estate agency service that did not complete through this company which appears to be OK as the small print on their website says fee payable regardless of sale?

    Are such fees a distortion to the industry, rather than disruption?

    What did these customers make of PB’s offer to market 5000 of emoov’s properties for free when they had to pay so much for the privilege of failure?

    Why hasn’t the press picked up on this PR disaster?

     

     

     

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  6. PossessionFriendUK39

    So,  WHERE ?  is the Proceeds of Crime Act for this Agent.  ?   seems the Govt want to garner votes from Tenants against landlords,  but not seek to sell this man’s house to pay back his victims.  THEN,  when he comes out of prison, he can find somewhere to rent !   end of.

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  7. CountryLass

    WTAF? He stole at least £20k, but only has to pay back £12,350? What happens to the people owed the other £7,650?? There should be interest charged on that like for PP!, isn’t that 8% a year or something?

    And HOW is this a punishment or deterrent?? No Jail time, doesn’t even have to repay the full amount, and can’t be a Director for 7 years. No, at least 3 years in jail (Or the same amount of time from the first crime to the last/court date) pay back all the money, plus interest and can never become a Director and is subject to random financial audits for the rest of his working life.

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