Letting agent in £200,000 fraud

Court
Court

A former letting agent has been sentenced to two years and nine months in prison after admitting fraud against both tenants and landlords.

Trained accountant Harpreet Garcha ran Belvoir property lettings franchises in Desborough, Kettering and Corby.

He was investigated by Northamptonshire County Council’s trading standards team after a landlord made a complaint about being overcharged for routine maintenance at her rented home.

Upon querying the cost of safety checks she was provided with invoices for £502.50 – they were fakes as the contractor had charged £166.25.

The court heard Garcha, 39, fraudulently generated £200,000 in extra profits at the expense of tenants and landlords, whose properties he marketed.

To disguise the practice, he set up a second business called Kettering Property Maintenance (KPM) which the contractors would invoice.

Garcha, of Bath Road, Kettering, admitted two counts of fraudulent trading, two of money laundering, five of insurance fraud and one offence of VAT fraud, committed between 2008 and 2012.

He was also convicted of providing false invoices to HMRC, making false statements in insurance claims, and contempt of court for breaching a restraint order made under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

He was sentenced last week at Leicester Crown Court; two-and-a-half years for the fraud-related offences and three months for the contempt of court offence.

Northamptonshire County Cllr André González de Savage said: “This investigation revealed a shocking level of deceit to defraud tenants, landlords and other parties.”

New owners took over the Belvoir franchises in 2014. Belvoir Property Management (UK) Ltd is not the subject of any action relating to this case.