Three men who ran a letting agency that failed to return tenants’ deposits or pass on rent to landlords have been convicted of fraud.
The three were behind businesses which traded as Crestons in Islington, north London, and which left at least 19 victims a total of £105,000 out of pocket.
Mohammed Rayn Mashuk and Mohammed Ibrahim Ali were convicted of one count each of carrying on business for a fraudulent purpose, as officers of Sirs Associates Ltd trading as Crestons.
They were cleared of the same offence as officers of Sirs London Ltd trading as Crestons.
Ahmed Ali Syed was convicted of carrying on business for a fraudulent purpose, as an officer of Sirs London Ltd t/a Crestons. He was cleared of the same offence as an officer of Sirs Associates Ltd trading as Crestons.
The prosecution, brought by Islington Council, resulted in a five-week trial.
The men are due to be sentenced in January.
Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development, said: “This is a major victory for the council, on behalf of private tenants and landlords not just in Islington and London but across the country – sending the message loud and clear that rogue letting agencies cannot rip off their clients and get away with it.
“This business trading as Crestons, using various company names, would have dealt with a huge number of tenants in Islington and neighbouring boroughs and I am extremely proud of our Trading Standards team, who worked so hard gathering evidence and witness testimony to build a strong case and secure these convictions.”
The council’s Trading Standards team is now pursuing confiscation orders against the three men, to claw back as much money as possible for the victims.
The council team’s investigation was partly funded by the National Trading Standards.
Andrew Clooney, chair of the NTS Tri-Region Investigation Team, said he was pleased that the partnership work had been a success, adding: “Islington Trading Standards had received a large number of complaints relating to this property letting company, who were actively targeting people trying to secure accommodation.
“The Government announced earlier this year, following a consultation, that it would make it compulsory for letting agents to belong to a client money protection scheme, which would allow landlords and tenants to recover money embezzled or lost by the letting agent.”
On allAgents there is a mixture of one-star reviews making allegations of missing money and warning others not to use Crestons, and reviews praising their service.
According to Companies House both Sirs Associates and Sirs London are in liquidation with the former due to be dissolved in February 2020, and the latter in November 2022.