Lee Clark (pictured), 42, of Park Corner Windsor, was jailed for three years at Reading Magistrates Court, as well as being disqualified from being a director of a company for six years, after pleading guilty to 17 counts of fraud by false representation.
He also pleaded guilty to one count of carrying on the business of a company with the intent to defraud.
An investigation by Thames Valley Police and Slough Trading Standards found that Clarke ‒ who started Berkshire Estate Agents ‒ defrauded a total of 31 clients, both tenants and landlords, over a five year period between 2013 and 2018.
Clarke took rent from tenants, but then did not pass it on to landlords, while he also failed to place deposits from tenants into a deposit protection scheme. This came to a head in 2018, when a number of landlords and tenants took their concerns regarding the firm to Slough Trading Standards.
Detective constable Luke Simms of the Thames Valley Police Economic Crime Unit said: “Our joint investigation uncovered the effects of Clarke’s criminality, both in terms of the serious financial harm to his 31 victims, but also the fear which Clarke instilled in them, with many of his victims describing Clarke as someone who was aggressive and threatening when clients made complaints.”
Peter Adshead, principal trading standards officer for Slough Borough Council, noted this had been a “complex and lengthy investigation”, adding that the sentence should remind business owners that failure to comply with legislation would be investigated and taken before the courts where necessary.
“Landlords and tenants expect their money to be legally protected and monies handed over promptly,” he concluded.