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'Despicable fraudster' gets eight-year ban for stealing landlords' deposits and rent

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A letting agent who ripped off dozens of landlord clients has been banned from being a company director for eight years.

Frank Smart, 46, the owner of Smart Residential Letting Agents in Newmarket, admitted two counts of fraud by retaining rent and deposits last August, by pocketing tenancy deposits instead of putting them in a deposit protection scheme.

Betrayed customers

He was jailed for 32 months by a judge at Ipswich Crown Court last summer, who said Smart'�s actions were 'particularly sad'� adding that the agent had 'betrayed those who trusted you and caused a lot of distress'�.

More than 30 witnesses told the court they had faced substantial losses after using Smart'�s services; he was found to have defrauded customers by over �80,000 when the business closed in 2018. Numerous landlords hadn'�t received rental income and were forced to refund tenancy deposits out of their own pocket, resulting in individual losses ranging from �700 to over �8,000.

Some comfort

Graham Crisp, head of Suffolk Trading Standards, says the fact Smart won'�t be allowed to be involved in the forming, marketing or running of a company should bring some comfort to his clients who lost thousands of pounds due to his lies and deceit, and that he would not be able to repeat these actions once out of prison.

Councillor Andrew Reid, cabinet member for public health and public protection at Suffolk County Council, adds that securing justice against Smart is the latest in a long line of successful court cases for the team. 'I have no doubt that their actions have stopped landlords, including those who bought an investment property to fund their retirement, from facing any further losses from a despicable fraudster who didn'�t think twice about blatantly disregarding the law.'�

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