Tenant tried to sell £400,000 house he was renting without landlord finding out
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A tenant has tried to sell his landlord's house for over £400,000 just two weeks after he was given the keys to the property.
Andrew Smith, 41, has been jailed for two and a half years for the crime, which police have described as 'truly brazen'. While he had initially claimed he was moving to the area in Cambridge for work, two weeks later Smith had listed the property for sale by a fake estate agent.
The fraudulent sale went as far as one potential buyer agreeing a price with Smith, and even visiting the property with a drainage surveyor.
However, it soon became clear all wasn't as it seemed after neighbours told the buyer they were under the impression that the three-bed house, which is located in Argyle Street, Cambridge, was rented by Smith.
The buyer later spoke to the actual letting agent, as well as the police, where it was revealed any documents provided by Smith were in fact fraudulent and it was not his house to sell in the first place.
Cambridgeshire Police tweeted: "A tenant who tried to sell the house he rented without his landlord’s knowledge has been jailed.
"He was only caught out in his 'truly brazen crime' when a prospective buyer conducted a drain survey at the property."
The force also revealed that Smith had made payments shortly after moving into the house to a furniture rental company which provides furniture for show properties.
Smith was arrested in Bedford before admitting to fraud by false representation and entering into money laundering.
He was sentenced at Brighton Magistrates’ Court to two years and six months last Friday (4 November).
Of the crime, 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."
According to the Law Society, property fraud is on the rise in the UK, with fraudsters constantly using different methods.
They explain: "You should look out for anything that seems unusual or suspicious, and think about the transaction as a whole. Usually there will be more than one sign that fraud is being committed."