A crooked letting agent swindled landlords out of £200,000 by providing fake invoices for repairs and safety checks carried out at buy to let homes despite other contractors already completing the work at a cheaper rate for him.
Harpreet Garcha was jailed for 33 months by a judge at Leicester Crown Court after pleading guilty to fraud at an earlier hearing.
Garcha, 39, and a trained accountant, ran the Belvoir lettings franchise in Kettering, Corby and Desborough, all in Northamptonshire.
His scam was revealed when trading standards officers called to look at his books following a complaint about overcharging from one of his landlord customers.
The landlord was charged £502 for safety checks by a contractor who had sent a bill for £166.25 to Garcha.
The investigation found that he had set up a business called Kettering Property Maintenance which would commission and pay contractors for work on homes.
His maintenance business would then invoice the landlords again for the work and Garcha creamed off the margin.
On average, landlords were overcharged by 30%for work they had carried out through Belvoir.
Garcha admitted two charges of fraudulent trading, two of money laundering, five of insurance fraud and one of VAT fraud, all committed between 2008 and 2012.
He was also convicted of providing false invoices to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to reclaim VAT on business expenditure, making false insurance claims for landlords which resulted in unjustified county court judgements against former tenants, and contempt of court for breaching a restraint order made under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Two mortgage fraud charges were left to lie on his file.
Lettings franchisor Belvoir played no part in any criminal activity committed by Garcha.
Meanwhile, in a separate case, estate agent Stephen Jones, of Conwy Estate Agents, Conwy, North Wales, admitted trying to cheat a pensioner out of £10,000 on the sale of her home by purchasing the property in his wife’s name.
The owner, aged 89, had to move into a care home and the property sale was to supposed to pay her long-term care costs.
Jones failed to tell her an offer for £25,000 was made on her flat and claimed the best price he could arrange was £15,000- but he did not tell the pensioner that was an offer he was making in his wife’s name.
Jones admitted fraud at Llandudno Magistrates Court and is due to be sentenced at Caernarfon Crown Court in March.
The sale was stopped by the local council who had a charge over the property and realised a fraud was taking place.