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Rental market

Fake estate agent reveals ease of scamming tenants via free-to-list sites

Preet-kaur Johal was only discovered at the last moment when the landlord turned up at the property unexpectedly.

Nigel Lewis

estate agent

The risks of free-to-list platforms such as Gumtree and Facebook as places to advertise properties to let have once again been exposed after a fake estate agent was caught defrauding a couple of £1,500.

26-year old Preet-kaur Johal had access to a property on Huntingfield Road in Putney (pictured, above), South London and on two occasions showed a couple, Alex Water and Aline Lima,  around the property after it was advertised on Gumtree to rent.

On a third subsequent meeting at the property Johal then took the £1,500 deposit from them but was caught when, by chance, the landlord turned up for an inspection visit.

Officers calls

She was confronted by the landlord and confessed to the attempted fraud and police officers were called to the scene.

During a hearing at Wimbledon Magistrates Court Johal, from lives in Hounslow, North London, claimed to have been coerced and later bullied by a friend to attempt the fraud.

Nevertheless she admitted one count of fraud by false representation and one count of possessing another person’s identity document after a driving licence of another woman was found on her.

Johal was fined £175 and handed a 12 month community order which requires her to fulfil 25 days rehabilitation, 19 sessions of a thinking skills programme and 120 hours of unpaid work.

Free-to-list sites have a chequered past and have been criticised in the past because they enable both fake landlords or estate agent wannabes and rogue tenants to advertise or secure properties in a way that would not be possible through traditional sites such as Rightmove and Zoopla.

Read the government’s guide preventing fraud.

October 26, 2020

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