Helen Gregory, 55, who ran agencies in the Peaks, Dales and Chesterfield did not repay money taken as security deposits from tenants on behalf of her client landlords.
Derby Crown Court was told that estate agent Gregory did not repay £67,000 she swindled from tenants.
Judge John Burgess, who jailed her after it emerged she had given £45,000 to her partner to go out and by a Jaguar car, said: “There are victims who are quite understandably furious”.
Gregory had received £45,000 from another business, and had then transferred the money into her boyfriend’s account, who then spent £25,000 on the car.
Gregory, who had admitted three charges of “engaging in unfair commercial practices” had had her sentencing delayed at a previous hearing on the condition she repaired the money as promised, but the new judged jailed her for ten months when she failed to repay.
Judge John Burgess said:
“There are victims who are quite understandably furious, not just that they lost their money, but the case has been strung out for two years or more. It sticks in the throat that someone could buy themselves out of a custodial sentence.”
On jailing Gregory, Judge Burgess went on to say:
“It would have been more impressive if the £45,000 you received had not been paid to your partner, and then funds from that process gone to a payment on an expensive motor car. This money should have been paid back to creditors.”
Gregory had been investigated by Trading Standards back in 2011 following several complaints from tenants who had not received deposit money back. Instead, she was using the money to keep her failing businesses afloat.
Christopher Lowe, prosecuting, told Derby Crown Court there were a total of 1,126 deposits received by Gregory over a five year period. Mr Lowe said: “Of which some 796 had not been paid into the Deposit Protection Scheme. These deposits totalled £548,747.”
Further investigations uncovered £67,000 owed to victims identified by Trading Standards.
Victims of Gregory’s scam who were devastated included one young couple who lost nearly £1,000 of wedding-present money, which they used as a deposit on a house, just days before they were due to marry.
It should be noted by landlords and tenants that monies owed to tenants by agents can be claimed in full from the landlord when an agent defaults, as the agent is merely acting on the landlord’s behalf.
Chesterfield Estate Agent Jailed After £67,000 Fraud – http://t.co/Wa9zZvCeFp
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) May 8, 2015