A letting agent in Nottinghamshire stole close to £30,000 from several landlord clients and tenants to help prevent his business from going bust.
Tim Catherall, of Carolgate in Retford, Beeston, ran a letting company called Hartleys Estate Agents which landlords used to rent out their properties.
The 53-year-old ran into financial difficulty and so used rent deposits to prop up his business.
Tenants and landlords realised deposits had not been paid into a recognised scheme in late 2018 when Hartleys Estate Agents declared bankruptcy and was forced to close.
Nottinghamshire police officers from the fraud team investigated and discovered a complex timeline of financial transactions dating back to 2009.
They found that 17 landlords had lost a total number of 27 rent deposits totaling £26,475. This varied from amounts of £550 to the biggest sum of £7,555.
Catherall was sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court last week to 20 months in prison, suspended for 24 months, and ordered to conduct 200 hours of unpaid work before 23 September next year.
Detective constable Chris Underwood commented: "Catherall stole from his clients and tried to justify to himself that he was doing it for the good of the business which he has now lost. He has also lost a tremendous amount of pride and now has been left with a criminal record.
"His actions cost dozens of people hundreds of pounds and caused a huge amount of stress and worry.
"We take these incidents seriously and hope the victims can find some comfort in knowing that Catherall has been held to account for his crimes."