Nearly all scam and fraud victims “suffer in silence”, councils say, but the jailing of a lettings agent shows billions of pounds could be saved.
Only 5% of scams are reported, owing to victims’ embarrassment and innocence, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).
But it pointed to the conviction of rogue lettings agent Martin Marcus as evidence of a fightback.
Victims of Marcus have told the BBC of sleepless nights after being defrauded.
Teacher Hannah Casey, 27, lost hundreds of pounds after paying a deposit with a friend for two rooms in a three-bedroom flat, only to discover seven people were already living in the property.
She confronted Marcus and, in a conversation that she recorded, he promised “on his children’s life” that he would return the money. She has never received it.
“I was devastated. I could not sleep and feel sick,” Miss Casey said.
“He was preying on people who he thought were vulnerable, like us – two young women. But we work too hard for someone to take money like that and steal it.”
Following a four-year investigation by Barnet Council Trading Standards, Marcus, 52, of Ashfield Avenue, in Bushey, was jailed for four and a half years after admitting five counts of fraud at Harrow Crown Court. Confiscation proceedings, attempting to retrieve some of the victims’ lost money, have begun.
Here at Belvoir Liverpool Central we pride ourselves on professionalism and being honest with our tenants. We are regulated by ARLA and The Property Ombudsman. If you are a tenant looking to rent a property, or a landlord looking to let your property out, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0151 231 1613.