A trial has started this week at Harrow Crown Court of six people all accused of defrauding tenants and landlords out of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The defendants in the case, all of whom have pleaded not guilty are: Martin Marcus, Nadim Khan, Michael Page, Corinne Marcus, James Day and Stacey Heffernan, all of what was North London Barnet based Churchill Residential.
The trial, which is expected to last up to six weeks, accuses all the six defendants of five counts of fraud, while Corinne Marcus is facing an additional money laundering charge.
Gordon Menzies Prosecuting said that tenants where asked to hand over deposit and rent money which just “disappeared into the business”.
Mr Menzies said:
“The company assured clients it would put their money in a ‘ring-fenced client account’ but if you look at this ‘client account’, it was used for coffee shops, underground stations, easyJet tickets, transactions made in Spain and Virgin Active memberships.
“Often the tenants would not even get a property. Many got nothing. Some got a cheque from Mrs Marcus’s bank account which then bounced.
“It was not clever but it was fraud and it worked.”
The defendants are all accused of renting out properties without the owner’s consent, taking rent payments and also encouraging multiple tenants to pay deposits for the same properties. This money was not properly accounted for in client accounts and deposits were not protected in a deposit protection scheme.
The court was told that the company name had been changed several times, A&A Properties, Churchill Residential, JMJ Residential, and Anthony Grant.
Mr Menzies said that the case centred around Mr & Mrs Marcus, the couple being accused of trying to let the home where they were tenants, and from which they were eventually evicted.
Six letting agents in fraud trial – https://t.co/cbNSB0HW7d
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) April 12, 2016