An Exeter estate agent who fraudulently rented out homes on Gumtree that were for sale and who also stole over £1,000 in cash from his employer has been released on bail.
Andrew Boyne, who in court admitted theft and 13 counts of fraud totalling £10,000, conducted the brazen lettings scam by advertising properties to let on Gumtree that were really properties for sale in Exeter listed with both his own agency and others.
The 34-year-old then asked potential tenants for £200 holding fees and in some cases rent in advance.
During the case at Exeter Crown Court, Devon Live reports that Gareth Evans, prosecuting, told the court that “on more than one occasion, people would actually move in, only to be told later that they had no right to be there”.
Boyne, who appears to have had a good reputation as an agent prior to the offences including several glowing reviews online for his sales progression and negotiating skills, got into financial difficulties and then turned to gambling to solve them but making his situation worse, Lee Brembridge, defending, told the court.
The alarm was raised when Boyne entered his branch office during the weekend and stole £1,025 in order to pay off gambling debts.
The case has now been adjourned for a probation pre-sentencing report on Boyne. Boyne now works outside the property industry and, the court was told, has sought help for his gambling problem.
Martin & Co, which says it had no idea of Boyne’s activities, said it was now out of pocket after reimbursing Boyne’s victims.