A landlord from Telford charged prospective tenants for credit checks that he failed to carry out, a court was told.
Darren Stevens charged seven prospective renters £1,000 on the understanding that he needed to check their credit history before offering them a property to rent.
But Shrewsbury Crown Court heard that Steven, of Arleston Lane, Arleston, never carried out the checks and pocketed the money.
He admitted seven counts of fraud and one charge of perverting the course of justice at a previous court hearing.
Nigel Booth, prosecuting, said: “He met with these prospective tenants and said that it was obligatory for them to pay £150 so that he could carry out a credit check for them.
“This is in itself not necessarily an irregular thing by definition.
“But he never carried out any of these checks.
“What he would say to them is that he was unable to offer them the tenancy because of irregularities that had come up on the credit check, and that he had offered it to someone else instead.
“All of them were unhappy about it, some were suspicious about it.
“We say the defendant never had any intention of carrying out the checks and was acting fraudulently.
“To make matters worse, in between his first and second police interviews the defendant carried out some of the credit checks and falsified the dates to try and show it had been done earlier.
“It was investigated and the defendant had admitted what he had done in that regard.
"He told police he had been left out of pocket because of previous bad tenants and wanted to get some money back to pay the mortgage.
“He was unemployed and struggling, but he knew that the victims would be out of pocket too.”
Judge Jim Tindal sentenced Stevens to six months in prison – but decided to suspend the jail term for a period of 12 months.
Stevens was also ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work, and pay back the full amount of £1,000 to the victims as compensation and £500 court costs. He must also stay under supervision for 12 months.