A letting agency boss in the West Midlands has been jailed for two years and four months after ripping off landlords and tenants who used his firm.
Bhavander Singh Sanghera, of Jesson Road, Walsall ran EBS Properties Ltd trading as Martin & Co Wolverhampton but, following a local Trading Standards investigation, was found to have defrauded customer landlords and their tenants as well as telling his staff to make exaggerated maintenance and repair claims.
Following a court hearing, Sanghera was found guilty of three counts of fraud or fraudulent trading, which he had pleaded guilty to, along with four further charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
He has now been sentenced to 28 months in jail for the fraud offences and is awaiting sentencing for the unfair trading offences. He has also been disqualified from acting as a company director for eight years.
The fraud offences involved '�double charging' tenants for utility bills at two adjacent rental properties (main picture) owned by Sanghera, and the use of falsified contracts and forged signatures to justify his actions.
Sanghera was also found to have falsified a check-out document to justify withholding a �845 deposit, and ordering employees of his estate agency to add excessive mark-ups on maintenance costs issued to landlords in order for his franchise to meet monthly targets.
The 50-year-old, who also owned a maintenance company, Genuine Interiors, fabricated invoices for work which was not carried out, such as the removal of personal belongings.
In addition, the court heard that friends and family of employees were urged to post fake positive reviews on his firm on social media and sending misleading property photos to a deposit protection scheme in order to justify withheld deposits.
Under the consumer protection from unfair trading offences, the court was told that during 2016, EBS Property did not advise the tenant that the utilities of one property were linked to another and that they would be paying for both utility bills, nor were they informed that the landlord of the property, Sanghera, was also the director of the letting agency.
Sanghera's firm was also found to have issued retaliatory eviction notices after tenants complained to Wolverhampton Council.
Cllr Steve Evans (pictured), cabinet member for city environment and climate change, adds: 'People put their trust in agencies like the one run by Sanghera to find them a home.
'They should not have that trust broken by the type of unscrupulous behaviour this case has highlighted.
'Crimes of this sort have such a huge financial and emotional impact on their victims.
'Sanghera has shown a repeated pattern of fraudulent behaviour at the financial and emotional expense of both his tenants and his staff. I'm very pleased that justice has now been served in this case.'�