Three London letting agents have been given suspended sentences following an investigation into their activities by the National Trading Standards eCrime Team.
It found that an infamous online property letting business – Oliver Knights – had been used as a vehicle for fraud that led to at least £50,000 financial loss for tenants and landlords.
This is not the first time The Negotiator has reported on Oliver Knights.
All three defendants pleaded guilty to money laundering, having knowingly allowed their bank accounts to launder the proceeds of lettings frauds between 31st December 2013 and 4th September 2015. These proceeds specifically relate to rental payments received for properties that were never available to rent.
The sentences were:
- Adnan Iqbal 34 from Barking, sentenced to 10 months, suspended for 18 months
- Shaidul Islam 29 from Ilford, sentenced to 1 year, suspended for 18 months
- Kamran Malik 31 from Plaistow, sentenced to 1 year, suspended for 18 months.
Mr Islam and Mr Malik were also ordered to pay compensation orders totaling £15,000, to be redistributed to victims. They were also each ordered to do 120 hours unpaid community work.
The investigation was prompted by 40 complaints to Action Fraud and Citizens Advice about Oliver Knights. It is not suggested that the defendants were involved in the underlying frauds.
Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards, said, “The defendants knowingly allowed fraudulent payments to be made into bank accounts and – while not being the architects of the fraud – have benefited financially from fraudulent activity. We are determined to clamp down on those who benefit from the financial exploitation of others.”
“The internet is a natural place to search for rental properties, but online search portals can be manipulated by criminals and it’s important to be vigilant – always check properties through accredited schemes and avoid paying deposits before you have visited the property yourself. Importantly, never feel pressured to transfer money to strangers.”
Oliver Knights advertised properties to let on Rightmove, Zoopla, Gumtree and their own site. After initial dialogue and viewings, consumers paid deposits and rent in advance only to be told that the property was no longer available, or to not hear anything further from Oliver Knights representatives.
Some properties offered for rent had never been available and had been falsely advertised.