Bogus homes agent from Upton Park jailed for rent fraud
PUBLISHED: 16:30 16 December 2011
A bogus estate agent who duped tenants into handing over thousands of pounds in deposits for a flat he was renting has been jailed for 14 months.
Tawfikur Rahman, 27, and Sharful Islam posted internet adverts, produced fake company leaflets and opened an office in give the appearance of a legitimate estate agents.
A total of 26 victims signed worthless tenancy agreements and handed over deposits totalling £36,000 for two central London one-bedroom flats.
Many, who had paid up to £2,900 each, were left without a roof over their head after they turned up at the same time to move into the flats and realised they had been cheated, the Old Bailey heard.
Islam fled the country with most of the money and is believed to be in hiding in Dubai.
Passing sentence and recommending deportation to his native Bangladesh, Judge Peter Rook QC told Rahman he had been part of a ‘‘planned and sophisticated fraud’’.
He said: ‘‘I’m prepared to accept that it was instigated by Sharful Islam, but you were well aware of the fraudulent nature of your activities.
‘‘You were active in renting the flat, and had dealings with a number of prospective tenants.
‘‘There were 26 victims, who lost significant sums of money, who were temporarily left homeless, and had to undergo much inconvenience because of your activities.’’
Rahman moved to the UK last June on a student visa, and began a course in business studies at the City of London College.
After running into money problems, he teamed up with fellow student Islam and the pair began plotting the lucrative scams using the front company Europa Services Ltd, with an office in London Wall.
They legitimately rented two flats, in Wentworth Street, Aldgate, and White Church Lane, Whitechapel, before promoting them on the classified ads website Gumtree between January and July this year.
John Carl-Townsend, defending, said: ‘There is very great remorse, and it is genuine remorse. He realises the very great hurt it has caused.
‘Mr Islam has effectively left Mr Rahman high and dry. He left Mr Rahman to face the music on his own.’
Rahman, of Dorset Road, Upton Park, admitted nine counts of fraud by false representation.
A further 16 counts of fraud relating to the Whitechapel flat were taken into consideration, while a single count of conspiracy to steal was left to lie on file.
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