An estate agent who photographed clients’ bank cards while showing prospective buyers around their homes has been sentenced to two years in jail for identity theft and fraud.
He had been employed only three months earlier by a reputable local firm on the recommendation of an equally reputable recruitment company. Both had been taken in by his faked CV.
Ayodele Oladuti, 29, of South Croydon, photographed bank cards on his phone and took bank statements and other documents as he visited clients’ homes.
He would then use the documents to commit identity theft – setting up bank accounts and a phone contract in their names – and also using the photographed bank cards to buy clothing and electrical goods online and in stores.
In total he attempted to defraud 20 victims of a total of just over £25,000 and was successful in obtaining just over £6,000.
Oladuti admitted seven counts of fraud last month and asked for a further 69 offences to be taken into consideration.
He has now been sentenced at Guildford Crown Court.
His offences came to light when a seller became suspicious during a viewing.
When the prospective viewers left the flat, Oladuti did not leave with them. The seller checked his CCTV and saw Oladuti opening doors and cupboards.
He took the footage straight to the manager of the estate agency that employed him, The Personal Agent, who immediately called Surrey Police.
Oladuti was arrested in their offices later that day.
He had worked for The Personal Agent for just under three months, and had come through recruitment agency Fusion Personnel.
Rupert Briggs, director of The Personal Agent, in Epsom, Surrey, yesterday told EYE that Oladuti had an impressive CV – which turned out to be faked – and had undergone two job interviews before being taken on.
He said that Oladuti had indeed worked for previous estate agents, although not those on his CV, and had been “moved on”.
He said Oladuti was instantly dismissed once the CCTV footage had been seen, but the following day Oladuti was job-seeking again.
Briggs said that the matter had cost his company, as he chose not to put vendors’ losses into the hands of his insurers, preferring instead to deal with all of the victims personally and recompense them.
He said he did not believe that the situation could have been avoided: “I have looked and looked to see what we could have done differently. He had references and a good CV. He came recommended by a reputable recruitment agency.
“I think we did everything we could have done – he just beat the system.”
He added: “As a straightforward and law abiding business we were deeply shocked by Ayodele Oladuti’s behaviour and wish to assure our local community that we will continue to pride ourselves on offering exceptional service and accountability for all our business transactions.”
Gina Van Der Westhuizen, of Fusion Personnel, said: “There are very strict guidelines and requirements in place during any recruitment campaign. All legal requirements and protocols were followed to the letter, so it was truly a shock to find out the lengths of deceit involved.”
DC Simon Evans, who investigated the case, said: “Mr Oladuti cynically manipulated his way into employment as an estate agent by faking his CV and setting up a fake email account to provide himself with a reference to an employment agency, who then recommended him to this local business.
“He then systematically defrauded the people whose homes he was showing to prospective buyers.
“In at least one case he returned to defraud the victim a second time, once the victim had closed all their compromised accounts.
“Ayodele Oladuti breached the trust placed in him by innocent victims who looked to him to help them sell their properties.
“He caused untold stress and worry to his victims, who were forced to rearrange their financial affairs at the same time as they were trying to move house.
“I am particularly grateful to The Personal Agent for their quick thinking and continued help in catching and prosecuting Mr Oladuti.
“I hope that this sentence gives some comfort to the victims, including the estate agency, who have had to unpick the chaos that this man’s identity fraud has caused.”
Below is the seller’s CCTV footage, as released by Surrey Police. It shows Oladuti showing two prospective buyers around a flat. When the viewing is over he doesn’t leave with the two women and instead opens a number of drawers and cupboards, before carrying a security box into the hall (where the keys were located) and then returning it to the bedroom. For legal reasons we must make it clear that the footage does not show Oladuti committing a crime, but it does show the behaviour which led to suspicions being raised, and his subsequent arrest.