At least 12 tenancy deposit fraud cases set for prosecution

There are at least a dozen cases involving the theft or misuse of tenancy deposits which could result in court cases.

In each one, deposits were protected by an insurance-backed scheme.

Mydeposits has said that there are more than 12 cases of possible fraud pending prosecution in which it is involved.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme told Eye it has one possible case involving an agent, and where it is assisting police.

The newest insurance-backed scheme, DPS Insured, has none. The DPS custodial scheme also says it has no fraud cases on its hands.

Mydeposits revealed it has over a dozen “further” possible cases pending after two directors of Masella Coupe, in Godalming, Surrey, admitted to a fraud involving £304,000 worth of tenants’ deposits.

Paul Masella and Grant Lee took the money and arranged for phoney cheques to be paid in to the account so that it would pass Mydeposits’ regular audits – a failed strategy, according to Mydeposits.

The pair, who repaid the money, have been given suspended sentences and unpaid community service.

Mydeposits says it worked closely with enforcement agencies to bring the affair to light.

Chief executive Eddie Hooker said that were it not the intervention of Mydeposits, the case might not have reached court.

He said: “It was down to the information, hard work and doggedness that brought these people to justice. We do a lot of work behind the scenes to catch rogue landlords and fraudulent letting agents, but often we’re made out to be the bad guys.

“We caught this case early due to our robust auditing and compliance processes, and immediately alerted the police and enforcement agencies.

“We had to keep pushing the case as initially no one was interested in taking it forward. However, due to our actions no one lost out and all the money was returned.”

Hooker said that the firm has developed a comprehensive and effective approach to identify those who try to break the rules.

He said: “We work closely with police and Trading Standards officers in England and Wales as they seek to understand how the different tenancy deposit schemes operate and then obtain sufficient evidence against rogue businesses.”

He said Mydeposits would continue to do so, saying that there are “over a dozen other cases still underway pending prosecution where Mydeposits are providing support and assistance”.

It is not known whether one of these cases could include that of Daniel Burton, the rent-to-rent agent where tenants’ deposits allegedly vanished and it emerged that they were no longer protected by Mydeposits because it had expelled him from membership.

Eye asked the other two schemes whether they were involved in possible prosecutions, and if so, how many.

A spokesperson for the Tenancy Deposit Scheme said: “We have systems and processes to highlight fraudulent activity, although as our membership base comprises mostly regulated agents, we have less pending activity to report.

“We have one letting agent that we are currently working with the police on at present.

“Where we establish fraudulent practice in our checks we work with the police and Trading Standards.

“In fact earlier this year, we were asked to attend meetings in London, Bristol, Manchester and Glasgow to offer training to Trading Standards officers around tenancy deposit protection.”

A spokesperson for the Deposit Protection Service – better known for its custodial scheme, where it physically banks the money rather than let the agent hang on to it, but which also runs an insured scheme – told Eye: “The recent fraud cases could not have happened under the custodial scheme, as the Deposit Protection Service holds the tenant’s cash.

“Our insured scheme only accepts regulated agents and has robust due diligence checks in place to reduce the risk still further.

“We also have low limits on the amounts private landlords can protect before we undertake due diligence on them – so the Daniel Burton case would not have happened in our scheme.

“One of the reasons we undertake such due diligence is because we guarantee protection until the end of the tenancy even if the agent is expelled: in other words, the 30-day mid-tenancy rule does not apply in our scheme, meaning that a tenant’s deposit is protected for the lifetime of the tenancy.

“We would of course work closely with the appropriate authorities if any fraud was suspected. There are no pending cases in our insurance scheme.”


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  1. MF

    I presume it's a given that a custodial scheme will never "go bust"?

    1. ray comer

      Not while taxpayers money is used to support their failings they won't.

      1. eromallid

        Is it the custodial schemes fault that Government have set interest rates at 0.5%? Difficult to see how you can run a free to use service when it is part of the income from that source that covers the overheads. Their failings – laughable!

  2. Paul H

    Allowing anyone to store money in their own bank account was never a good idea. Time for my deposits to step in line or knock it on the head.

    1. MF

      I don't see it as a problem, PROVIDING the deposit schemes can absolutely guarantee the money, no matter what.

      1. Paul H

        The only wat they can guarantee it is by the money being in their account.
        You may get the odd anamoly but in the whole the other schemes are clearly much better for the consumer.

  3. Peter

    It would be interesting to know how many of the twelve MyDeposit are talking about belong to a professional body such as ARLA.

    1. eromallid

      It is interesting to note that my|deposits are attempting to turn this story into praiseworthy action on their part. In the final analysis, until or unless they are stopped by DCLG from accepting non regulated (Safeagent) letting agents into their TDP scheme, as is the case with DPS (Insured) and was the case with TDS Ltd until recently, this sort of problem will continue unchecked, further bringing the whole industry into disrepute.


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