Rental agent jailed after £ 182,000 fraud …
A rental agent has been jailed for three years for defrauding tenants and landlords over £ 182,000.
Lee Clarke, 42, of Park Corner, Windsor, was manager of Berkshire Estate Agents in Slough.
He went missing in 2019 after being investigated by Slough Trading Standards and kicked out of the property mediator for failing to reimburse plaintiffs as ordered.
The disgraced officer was finally brought to justice last week, following investigations by Thames Valley Police and Slough Trading Standards.
Agents said that between September 18, 2013 and December 12, 2018, Clarke defrauded a total of 31 customers, tenants and landlords, for the sum of £ 182,047.63.
Investigating Officer Detective Constable Luke Simms of the Thames Valley Police Economic Crime Unit said: “Lee Clarke has established a company called Berkshire Estate Agents Limited in Windsor Road, Slough. No one else working for the company was involved in Clarke’s crimes, which took place
“Clarke knowingly collected rent from tenants, but then deliberately chose not to pass that rent on to landlords. Clarke has also deceived his clients by failing to protect deposits collected from tenants under a deposit protection program, as stipulated by rental agreements and as required by law.
“During 2018, a number of landlords and tenants raised concerns about Berkshire Estate Agents Limited to Slough Trading Standards.
“What followed was a thorough investigation by Slough Trading Standards and the Thames Valley Police.
“Our joint investigation revealed the effects of Clarke’s crime, both in terms of serious financial harm to her 31 victims, but also the fear Clarke instilled in them, with many of her victims describing Clarke as someone aggressive and threatening when customers have complained.
“The sentence will be a relief for many victims in this case and should reassure the public and the community of Slough that those who commit fraudulent crimes using a business will be brought to justice.”
Clarke was also disqualified from being a director of any company for six years.
He pleaded guilty to 18 counts against him at a previous hearing on August 9 this year.
He also pleaded guilty to 17 counts of fraud by misrepresentation and one count under section 993 of the Companies Act 2006, of carrying on the activities of a business in the intention to defraud creditors or for other fraudulent purposes.
Peter Adshead, Senior Trade Standards Officer for Slough Borough Council, added: “This is a long and complex investigation in which many Slough residents have fallen victim to this man and the agency.
“The evidence has been meticulously collected by the Trading Standards team and turned over to the police to help complete the prosecution. Cooperation with the police continued throughout the investigation.
“We hope this sentence serves as a reminder to business owners that non-compliance with the law will be investigated and brought to court if necessary.
“Homeowners and renters expect their money to be protected by law and money to be returned quickly. ”