Three rogue directors of a letting agency in London who conned at least landlords and tenants out of more than £105,000 were sentenced last week at Blackfriars Crown Court to two years and four months each in prison.
Mohammed Rayn Mashuk, 42, Mohammed Ibrahim Ali, 37, and Ahmed Ali Syed, 37, who ran north London-based letting agency Crestons, were convicted last month of carrying on business for a fraudulent purpose, as officers of Sirs Associates Ltd, trading as Crestons, based in Islington and neighbouring boroughs.
The trio were finally jailed last week and banned from acting as company directors for the next eight years.
Prosecutor Richard Heller said £105,000 was taken from at least 19 victims who hired Crestons through its offices in Camden, Islington and Spitalfields. He said a series of “phoenix” company names were used to keep the con going between 2013 and 2016, so that when one had to be shut down another identical operation would spring up.
The investigation was triggered by complaints from tenants and landlords who had fallen victim to Crestons.
Following the prosecution, Islington's housing chief Cllr Diarmaid Ward 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.
“Prosecutions like this are rare but vital in the fight for better standards in the private housing market. We won’t stop here.”
The council’s trading standards team is now pursuing confiscation orders to claw back much money from the agents.