An unscrupulous letting agent has been jailed for two years for conning landlords and tenants out of almost a quarter of a million pounds.
Andrew Whitehead, who owned a letting agency in Southampton, defrauded landlords and tenants out of more than £230,000.
Fraudster Andrew Whitehead failed to pass on rent to landlords and also did not return deposits to tenants.
The 45-year-old’s fraudulent activity was discovered by trading standards, who found Whitehead, of Highcrown Mews, Highfield, SO17, had pocketed the money over a four-year period.
The court was told that Whitehead was the sole director of The Flat Agency and Michael Brown’s Ltd, Property Vibe Ltd and TFAMB.COM Ltd, all trading in Southampton between April 2013 and February 2017.
The court heard that Whitehead forged a bank statement, which he then used to give the impression his client’s deposits were ring-fenced when in fact they were not, in order to remain a member or join industry trade associations and a tenancy deposit scheme, enabling the agent to continue trading while stealing large sums of money from tenants.
Whitehead, who saw his companies eventually expelled from The Property Ombudsman’s redress scheme, pleaded guilty to three counts of fraudulently trading, one count of forging a bank statement and four counts of using forged bank statements, following an extensive investigation by Southampton City Council’s Trading Standards Service, supported by Trading Standards Regional Investigation Team.
Cllr Jacqui Rayment, cabinet member for Place and Transport, commented: “This conviction will hopefully give some moral satisfaction to the victims of Mr Whitehead.”