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Tenant pretended he owned Cambridge house he tried to sell

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A tenant tried to sell the house he rented without his landlord’s knowledge; a court heard.

Andrew Smith, 41, was only caught out in his “truly brazen crime” when a prospective buyer conducted a drain survey at the property.

Smith claimed he was moving to the area for work when he began renting the three-bed house in Argyle Street, Cambridge, in February 2020.

But less than two weeks after receiving the keys, the property appeared for sale online via a fake estate agent company.

Two potential buyers unwittingly contacted the fake estate agent company, and a price was agreed with one of them.

In June 2022, the victim, who believed they were purchasing the house, visited the property with a drain surveyor.

However, he spoke to neighbours who explained they thought the house was tenanted and not for sale and advised him to contact the letting agent.

After discovering the property was not for sale, he immediately contacted police.

Officers discovered many documents Smith had provided to the letting agent were fraudulent.

Not only this, but he had made payments to a furniture rental company, which supplies furniture for show homes, shortly after moving in.

Officers caught up with Smith at an address in Bedford and arrested him. He eventually pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and entering into money laundering.

Andrew Smith claimed he was moving to the area for work when he began renting the three-bed house in Argyle Street, Cambridge, in February 2020.

Smith, of Gardeners Close, Flitwick, Bedford, was sentenced to a total of two years and six months in prison at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Friday (4 November).

Detective Constable Dan Harper said: “This is an almost unbelievable and truly brazen crime, which saw an innocent buyer almost part with more than £400,000 for a property that was never for sale in the first place.

“The investigation has been long and detailed, and we have worked tirelessly to make sure justice has been served.”

 

 

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