02 Sep 2022

Call for more due diligence after rogue letting agent jailed

Trading Standards is calling for more due diligence checks to be made following the jailing of a rogue letting agent for fraud.

As we reported yesterday on Letting Agent Today, the jailing of Frank Smart – owner of Smart Residential Letting Agents in Newmarket – came after a four year probe by Suffolk Trading Standards, which had received numerous complaints from landlords and tenants who were unable to make contact with the company after its premises in Newmarket shut in July 2018.

Smart is already serving a 28 months sentence for assault and malicious communications; the additional 34 month sentence is for two counts of fraud by abuse of position. He conned some £80,000 out of landlords.

Now Trish Burls, form National Trading Standards, says there’s a clear lesson from this case. She comments: “I urge anyone agreeing to make payments like this to make sure they do their due diligence – always undertake background research on the person or business you’ll be working with and always ask for references. If you suspect you are being scammed or defrauded, report it to the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133.”

More than 30 witnesses alleged that they had faced substantial losses after using Smart’s services, resulting in Trading Standards initiating court proceedings against him.

Smart, 46, subsequently pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud in respect of retaining rent and deposits under S1 Fraud Act 2006 earlier this month.

Upon sentencing him to 34 months per offence, to run concurrently, the judge commented that “this was particularly sad as people had liked and trusted you… You have betrayed those who trusted you and caused a lot of distress and upset”.

An application was made to have Smart disqualified as a Director of a Company in the future and this matter will be dealt with together with any compensation at a Proceeds of Crime hearing in March 2023.

Smart, of Dowding Avenue in Cambridge, is already serving prison time for another police matter.

Link to original article

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