Please Note: This Article is 5 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

Janine Pickett who was running a Dorset Lettings agency as franchisee has been jailed for stealing £375,000 from her landlords and tenants.

Pickett, 47, of Stour Provost, admitted fraud by abusing her position at the Shaftesbury branch of Dorset Lettings, one of the company’s three franchised branches, at a hearing at Dorchester Crown Court.

She received a 32 months’ prison sentence.

Dorset Police reported that she plundered deposits and rental payments from the bank accounts she was managing. She spent the proceeds of her crime a new BMW car, holiday trips to Florida and France, took cruises in the Mediterranean and bought a number of Welsh ponies.

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A police spokesman commented that Pickett’s actions had been selfish and had cheated not only innocent tenants and landlords out of the monies they had paid over as deposits and rent, but also Barrie George, owner of the Dorset Lettings brand.

Mr George had said, the episode had been “a particularly stressful time” for staff, landlords, tenants and suppliers.

He said all the landlords and tenants involved had been able to recoup their losses through the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) protection scheme.

Tom Entwistle of LandlordZONE commented:

“The one lesson loud and clear from this saga, for all landlords and tenants, is to always make sure they are dealing with agents who are members of one of the professional associations with proper money protection schemes in place. Had this agency not been a member of ARLA or one of the other recognised bodies in the industry this story would have been an entirely different one for the agency and landlords and tenants involved.”

Please Note: This Article is 5 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

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