Crooked Islington letting agents ordered to pay victims almost £100,000 in compensation

Islington Town Hall.Picture:Ken Mears

Islington Town Hall.Picture:Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Three dodgy letting agents who kept tenants’ rent payments instead of passing them on to the landlords have been ordered to pay almost £100,000 in compensation to their victims.

The conmen, who ran companies in Islington and neighbouring boroughs under the trading name Crestons, also failed to refund deposits to private tenants at the end of their tenancies and left at least 19 victims about £105,000 out of pocket.

Mohammed Rayn Mashuk, Mohammed Ibrahim Ali and Ahmed Ali Syed were convicted in December 2018 of carrying on business for a fraudulent purpose following a five-week trial at Blackfriars Crown Court, which heard testimony from more than 30 witnesses.

The trio were later sentenced to 28 months behind bars and were disqualified from acting as directors of a company for eight years.

They were brought to justice following a lengthy and complex investigation by Islington Council which was partly funded by National Trading Standards (NTS), triggered by complaints from tenants and landlords who had fallen victim to Crestons.

Last week a confiscation hearing at Inner London Crown Court marked the end of the council’s long-running and complex investigation.

Syed was ordered to pay £72,035.12 in compensation to three victims, and had a further £2,709.12 of criminal proceeds confiscated.

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Mashuk was ordered to pay £21,717.46 in compensation to seven victims, and had £47,919.04 of criminal proceeds confiscated.

Meanwhile Ali was ordered to pay £5,137.46 in compensation to two victims and had £21,329.47 of criminal proceeds confiscated.

Islington’s housing chief, Cllr Diarmaid Ward, said: “This confiscation order is a major victory for private tenants and landlords – not just in Islington, but right across the country.

“It is only right that these men surrender the money they duped from unwitting victims.

“Thanks to the determination, tenacity and hard work of our trading standards and legal teams, all those who were ripped off are now due to get their money back.”

He added: “Prosecutions and confiscation orders like this are rare but vital in the fight for better standards in the private housing market, where tenants often spend large proportions of their income on rent and tenancy deposits.

“The court ruling sends the message loud and clear that we won’t let rogue letting agents get away with ripping off their clients.”

If the money is not paid within three months Syed and Mashuk would each have to serve an extra 12 months’ in jail, while Ali faces nine months’ imprisonment.