Foxtons agent ‘threatened with acid attack’ after helping to investigate gang of fraud tenants

An estate agent at Foxtons who started warning landlords about a gang specialising in sub-letting scams received anonymous late-night threats on her mobile phone.

She was told in one call that she would have acid thrown in her face.

A friend told The Sunday Times that the agent had been “severely traumatised”.

The Foxtons agent was part of a group investigating the gang after police declined to do so.

The Sunday Times yesterday carried a major story about the “sophisticated gang” which targets luxury rental properties.

The gang’s members rent properties, apparently as legitimate tenants.

They then sub-let the property, collecting rent from tenants that the landlord knows nothing about, while the landlords themselves receive no payment.

The gang takes advantage of the sheer length of time it takes for evictions to be obtained.

One landlord said: “They stopped paying the rent after two months but it took me almost a year and cost me £70,000 to evict them.”

According to the story, the police regard the matter to be a civil one, prompting a group of letting agents, landlords and concerned neighbours to start their own investigations.

Gang members go to considerable lengths to get past tenancy referencing and checking processes.

The paper quotes a fashion consultancy whose boss found that the fraudsters had forged references, bank statements and payslips in her company’s name.

Patrick Bullick, managing director of estate agency Stanley Chelsea, said that the problem was “rife” across London.

He said: “The rise of Airbnb and other letting sites has facilitated this criminality. Thousands of properties are being misused in this way in central London.”

Kim Taylor-Smith, deputy leader of Kensington & Chelsea Council, said: “It cannot be right that criminals roam the districts of London and the police just look the other way.”

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10 Comments

  1. ArthurHouse02

    This is awful and completely discourages us from trying to do the right thing when the opportunity arises. Government talk big about money laundering and property fraud being high on their agenda, but when it comes down to it, it just isnt

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    1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

      “Government talk big about money laundering and property fraud being high on their agenda…”

      oh but it is…and the Government is very adept at both activities… in fact, I would go as far as to say they’re the most successful fraudsters around (“Help to buy”  being one their finest scams!)

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  2. LandlordsandLetting

    Two interesting elements here:

    1) ‘The gang takes advantage of the sheer length of time it takes for evictions to be obtained.’

    Yes, I’m sure they do! The ****** law leans over backwards to protect tenants, no matter what the bleeding hearts at Shelter and the Labour Party say.

    2) ‘The police regard the matter as a civil one.’

    What? Assuming these reports are accurate, criminals threaten to throw acid in a person’s face and the useless police ‘regard it as a civil matter’. I reckon that the modern police motto is ‘There’s Nothing We Can Do About it , Sir (Madam)’. How often do we hear that?

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    1. Expertinafield28

      With regards to number 2, the police cannot help with the initial problem with the tenants subletting. The police are correct in that they have absolutely no power to assist in that instance.

      Now that threats have been made, the police can get involved but only in respect to the recent threats. They still cannot do anything about the original offence.

      I hate the use of the phrase “Police declined to do so”, as it makes it seem as if there was a choice in the matter.

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      1. DarrelKwong43

        I think the Fraud Act 2006, would be the criminal activity?

        It is used apparently for social tenants who sub let, so cannot see why this would not apply to this situation.

        sometimes you have to tell the police the law, as they will not every piece of criminal legislation going.

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      2. LandlordsandLetting

        The clear implication was that the police regarded the threats of throwing acid as something they regarded as a civil matter. Obviously I know that illegal sub-letting is a civil matter. Either the article is poorly written and somewhat ambiguous or the police are indeed useless. We have to assume the former!

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        1. Rent Rebel

          The clear implication was that the police regarded the threats of throwing acid as something they regarded as a civil matter.

          No, it wasn’t. You just read it wrong, silly. And now you’re getting all defensive.

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      3. Deltic2130

        Interestingly, I reported the break-in and vandalising of a parked car near me yesterday belonging to a nearby shop worker, and the police said they could only take reports of car crime from the owner! So that was me reporting a criminal offence to the police and they declined to get involved.

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        1. PossessionFriendUK39

          That is a Load of B****ks   the Police were wrong to say that and you can and should complain.

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  3. smile please

    I think the agents involved should be applauded for their service to landlords. This is over and above their remit and shows they are in touch with the local market.

     

    I hope that the Police find those responsible for threats and deal with them accordingly.

     

    Although sub-letting is not currently a Police matter, it does bring into question the protection tenants have and the the issues landlords and lettings agents need to deal with.

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