Bogus landlord admits scamming victim in Gants Hill

PUBLISHED: 13:22 11 July 2016 | UPDATED: 17:00 11 July 2016

Pritchard admitted the offence at Blackfriars Crown Court late last month. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA

Pritchard admitted the offence at Blackfriars Crown Court late last month. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A fraudster who scammed an unsuspecting resident out of £350 with an advert in a newsagents’ window has been given a three month suspended sentence.

Martin Pritchard, 52, of Cherry Court, Canvey Island, Essex, originally plead not guilty to fraud by false representation but admitted the offence before his trial was due to start.

He appeared at Blackfriars Crown Court on June 23 for sentencing, and was handed 100 hours community service and a curfew monitored by an electronic tag, as well as the two year suspended sentence.

The court heard how Pritchard placed an advert in a newsagents’ window for a flat to rent. His victim saw the advert and they arranged to meet in Gants Hill.

The court was told at the meeting Pritchard said that he was not able to arrange a viewing, but his son would contact the victim later that day and show him the flat.

The bogus landlord said he would need a £350 deposit immediately – even before the viewing – and the victim paid him.

He did not hear from Pritchard’s son, and was not able to get his money back.

The court heard the victim arranged for a friend to contact Pritchard about the flat, who again said to meet him in the street, this time in Cranbrook Road, outside Ilford Station.

Pritchard took the victim’s friend to his car, before he realised he was being set up and forced the friend away.

A complaint was made to Redbridge Council’s Trading Standards team which used DVLA and insurance records to trace Pritchard.

Following a search Trading Standards and Essex Police found cards similar to the one used at the newsagents.

Pritchard was arrested by Essex Police and interviewed by Trading Standards.

The team found that the semi-detached house Pritchard said was available was owned by a couple who had lived there for 40 years.

Cllr Ross Hatfull, cabinet member for civic pride, said: “I’m proud that our team has worked with Essex Police to secure a conviction of somebody who was clearly happy to scam people out of their hard-earned money.

“We work incredibly hard to protect the residents of this borough from those that would gladly con or swindle them and I’m pleased that this individual has been brought to justice.”

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