Conman Ilford lettings agent who defrauded clients of £20,000 spared jail
PUBLISHED: 11:00 19 December 2018
A crooked Ilford lettings agent who illegally pocketed tenants' deposits to fuel his gambling addiction and lavish lifestyle has been spared jail.
Usman Khalil, 30, of Windsor Road, was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment suspended for two years at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday (December 14).
The owner of the now defunct Home Hunter Properties Ltd, based in Goodmayes Road, pleaded guilty to defrauding his prospective tenants at an earlier hearing.
He snatched a combined total of £20,000 from at least seven victims, according to Redbridge Council who supported the investigation into his scam operation.
“You had no basis to take holding deposits as you were not the sole agent,” said Judge West-Knights QC during sentencing.
“The reality was that you were gambling away your clients’ money.
“Vulnerable people, people of low income, desperate for a home were using you as an agent of last resort.
“They gave you all their money and more.”
Trading Standards, supported by the council’s in-house legal team and Action Fraud, launched a major investigation into Khalil’s business after victims held a demonstration outside its premises in 2015.
Khalil was found to be holding clients’ deposits and advance rent for properties which would fall though.
He would then refund them using cheques that bounced, despite having sufficient cash in other bank accounts.
As part of the scam, Khalil advertised a string of properties that already had people living in them.
One couple, who lost thousands of pounds, were unable to pay for a deposit or rent for alternative accommodation after being conned.
Khalil was ordered to pay back £12,350 and was disqualified from being a company director for seven years.
He must also seek help for his alcohol and gambling addictions.
Cllr Bob Littlewood, cabinet member for crime, safety and community cohesion, said: “The case has exposed an appalling abuse of the law and a major con artist who devastated the lives of vulnerable people desperate to find a place to live.
“I want to praise the commitment of our Trading Standards and legal teams who worked extremely hard over three years to bring this case to court and secure an important conviction.”