Fake Southend Landlord Cons Potential Tenants

A man in Southend posed as a landlord to con nearly £5,000 from potential tenants looking for a rental property.

Southend Magistrates’ Court heard that Duncan Atkin moved into the property, 43 Princess Street as a lodger after finding the property on AirBnB.

He then proceeded to advertise on Gumtree for tenants to move in to the property and received six replies mainly from vulnerable people that were being evicted from their properties including a pregnant woman with a further child.

After showing the potential tenants around the Southend property he then took deposits from all of the applicants ranging from £650 to as much as £1,390 and drew up false tenancy agreements for each of them.

The scam came to light when all six tenants arrived to move in on the same day in January and subsequently called police.

Mr Atkin pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud and is due to be sentenced at Basildon Crown Court on March 29.

Lesley Chipps, prosecuting, said: ‘This is someone who has preyed upon particularly vulnerable people. Some were waiting to be evicted, one particular lady was six months pregnant with a young daughter who just needed somewhere to live.

‘It was under £5,000 but to these people the sum of money they paid out is a large amount of money. They are very angry and distressed about the situation.’

One of the victims, Jay West, who lost £1,390 is now homeless and sleeping in his car while he searches for another property.

He commented: ‘Atkin took my savings so I have nowhere to go now. We are all set to move in and it just turned out to be a big scam.

‘It was crazy because when we went to move in there were all these people there and police cars. I’m just waiting for the council to help me out.’