A managing agent who defrauded buy-to-let landlords out of £16,500 over an 18-month period will face a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing back at Liverpool Crown Court later this year, when he could be ordered to pay back the money.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that Saleem Kassim invented maintenance work at the rental properties he managed and pocketed the £16,500 he was given to carry out the repairs.
The 35-year old, who worked as a specialist residential managing agent at Leaders on Sankey Street in Warrington, managed a flat in Padgate, Warrington, along with two properties in Liverpool.
On seven occasions between 2016 and 2018, he told the owners of these properties that work needed to be done on their central heating.
But it later transpired that the work was not necessary and was never actually carried out.
Defence barrister Philip Tully told the court: “It is no excuse for his [Kassim’s] behaviour, but the simple reason my client found himself committing this offence was that he found himself in debt – he acted in a foolish and out of character way.
“Mr Kassim clearly is ashamed about his conduct and left his employment because he knew he couldn't cope with that fact it would be discovered.
“He is genuinely remorseful for his actions – he's so ashamed that he hasn't been able to share these matters with his family.
“He's a family man who accepts what he's done wrong.
“I ask your honour to give him a chance.”
Kassim, who is now working as a taxi driver, admitted fraud during an earlier hearing at Warrington Magistrates Court.
Judge Stuart Driver handed him a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for a year. The ex-property manager was also subjected to a rehabilitation activity requirement of up to 15 days and told to carry out 70 hours of unpaid work.
Sentencing, Judge Driver said: “You've said if you don't go to prison today that you intend to repay the money, but I don't believe you.
“You defrauded customers of yours out of £16,500 over one and a half years when you were in a position of trust.
“But you are a hard-working family man with three young children, and this is a case in which there is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation.
“This is your one and only chance – if I see you again you're going to prison.”