A bogus landlord has conned innocent renters in Islington out of more than £20,000.
The unidentified conman rented a flat from a legitimate landlord on Popham Street, Islington, and then proceeded to advertise his rental “to let” on the main rental websites.
The conman, who has been described as Asian, in his thirties with short black hair, a short beard and dark-framed glasses, successfully attracted several interested parties, from whom he took large rental deposits.
Many of the hopeful “tenants” were young and from overseas and from the ones who got in touch with the police so far, their total amount handed over is in the region of £20,000.
The people involved were arriving at what they thought was their new home on the move-in dates they had been given, only to find they had been duped.
Police think at least 12 people fell victim to the con in what they say is an increasingly common property crime in the “hot” rental market in London. They fear there are more tenants and landlords who are being tricked either in this way of by illegal sub-letting.
Police are looking for the man who is of Asian appearance and who gave his name as Mustafa Batt, though police believe this is a false name.
The police want to speak to anyone who has information on the whereabouts of this fraudster – see photo above: Metropolitan Police.
If you recognise this man or have any information about the fraud call 101 quoting 2721069/14 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
Police advise that anyone seeking to rent a house or a flat should be wary about who they are renting from before they hand over money or their personal identity details.
The main deposit and first months’ rent should be handed over at the tenancy signing-in point when the tenant has gained access to the property, not in advance. A pre-tenancy holding deposit should be of a limited amount, no more than one week’s rent.
Landlords also need to make sure they carry out detailed checks on prospective tenants: identity, referencing and credit checks before renting out a property – see London Tenant Jailed for Sub-Letting Scam
Police advice on fraud crimes here
Landlord’s Guide to Preventing Tenant fraud here