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Estate agent stole £350,000 in rent and was ordered to pay back £1!

Just for a change from woefully boring Brexit related matters and the ups and downs of the property market, here’s a tale of woe we came across from an industry blog this week.

An agent who stole over £350,000 in rent and deposits to fund his ‘lavish lifestyle’ has been told to pay back £1.

Clifford Wheatcroft, 35, set up Real-Est8 Property Solutions in Bournemouth, but was declared bankrupt in 2013 when it was discovered he had not put tenants’ deposits in a protection scheme. Several landlords were also owed rents.

Wheatcroft was interviewed by police and told them that he had used the money to keep up with other payments. However, enquiries showed he had spent £357,260 on personal items such as holidays.

Wheatcroft admitted eight counts of theft and last year he was given a 17-month sentence suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work.

It has now been discovered that he is unable to pay back the money he stole, and under the Proceeds of Crime Act, will repay only £1. He will, however, have to pay more if and when he comes into money – whether by employment, winning the lottery, or inheritance.

Judge Stephen Climie, at Bournemouth Crown Court, told Wheatcroft that the Proceeds of Crime order will be with him for the rest of his life. He said: “He is not getting away with just paying £1 and it’s important that is known at a public hearing.”

Dorset police said that there had been a lengthy and complex investigation, with a number of victims.

One can’t fail to feel sorry for all those out of pocket from such a despicable crime who appear to have had salt rubbed in their wounds when learning of the ridiculously lenient punishment of having to pay back just £1! It really does beggar belief.

By Chris Willey

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