A private landlord has been jailed for almost four years after being found guilty of stealing money from more than 100 prospective tenants.
Tahir Khaliq operated a fraudulent scheme in which prospective tenants were encouraged to pay a holding fee of typically £200 or £400 as a non-refundable deposit so a property would be taken off the market and their application would progress.
But Khaliq, aged 49, ordered staff at his company, Lancashire Lettings in Bury, to accept but never return holding deposits from a number of renters looking to secure accommodation and arranged for bogus home insurance claims to be submitted with fake quotes and invoices with the assistance of employee Paul Dickinson.
Prosecutor Andrew Thomas told Bolton Crown Court this week that among the fake insurance claims were those made for houses in Shackleton Grove in Johnson Fold as well as Ainsworth Avenue in Atherton and Hoyle Street in Radcliffe.
Genuine looking inflated quotes were submitted from two invented firms and then if needed leases were falsified to try to prove the properties were occupied at the time.
Thomas said: “The two most blatant parts of this fraud were the lies told about two things: about who was living in the property and the fabrication of estimates and invoices for repair work.
“Internal emails showed Paul Dickinson was the author of the bogus documents and Mr Khaliq was involved.
“In reality the works were done by their own handymen at a fraction of the cost.”
In sentencing Khaliq, Judge Graeme Smith, said: “[Khaliq] became accustomed to putting his own selfish interests before others. You were involved in several fraudulent activities that all took place over an overlapping period.
“You had a leading role actively involved in each fraud; other employees were involved however [this offending] took place over a long period of time and you had high culpability in relation to the deposit fraud aspects; some of whom were vulnerable.”
Khaliq was handed a 45 months sentence this week, while Dickinson, aged 42, was given a two year jail term, suspended for two years, and 240 hours of community service.
The rogue landlord was also ordered to pay back £100,000 and pay court costs of £25,000 and was disqualified from being a company director for 10 years.