A property campaigner has described the case of a letting agent only convicted of £200,000 of fraud involving deposits following a private prosecution after police decided not to investigate as “stunning and alarming”.
A court heard Timothy Shinners of Bolton failed to place deposits in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme “time and time again” over a six year period -spending the money himself. A fellow company director at Platinum Properties, Bolton, was forced to invest £200,000 to cover deposits which had gone missing. Evidence showed Shinners took at least £76,352 of company money.
Deposit reform campaigner Ajay Jagota commented: “how many more times does this need to happen before something is done?” Shinners was last week sentenced to three years imprisonment and banned from acting as a director for eight years.
A jury at Bolton Crown Court earlier found Shinners guilty of:
● Failing to comply with the statutory requirement to register tenant deposits with an approved tenancy deposit protection scheme.
● Fraudulently adapting tenancy deposit protection documents to disguise irregularities.
The court heard that Shinners had knowingly received deposits and failed to transfer them into a Deposit Protection Scheme account “time and time again”. These deposits – totalling at least £200,000 - were only registered and protected following an injection of cash by another company director, an act described as an “act of decency” by the Judge. The director had earlier reported the matter to the police, only for police to decline to investigate as “there are fewer police officers investigating reports of fraud at a time when the volume of fraud is increasing significantly” necessitating “difficult decisions” which may not be “satisfactory to the victim”. A police statement admitted: Due to the changing face of crime, we are not in a position to investigate each report of fraud.