A letting agent who cheated over 100 tenants and worked other scams has been jailed for 45 months.
His accomplice, employee Paul Dickinson, was given a suspended sentence.
Their convictions follow a lengthy investigation by the National Trading Standards North West Regional Investigations Team.
Landlord Tahir ‘Tony’ Khaliq’s property empire included a string of letting agencies including Lancashire Lettings, run from his office in Bury, Greater Manchester.
He took holding deposits worth between £200 and £400 from multiple prospective tenants, and claimed they all failed credit checks – while he kept the cash.
The offences came to light after a number of complaints were received by Rochdale Trading Standards which subsequently commenced a formal investigation into Khaliq’s business practices.
Rochdale Trading Standards worked in partnership with the Regional Investigation Team to take action.
Many of the victims in the rental scam were vulnerable people on low incomes, the court heard.
One woman was forced into a mother and baby unit and another into grave financial difficulty while trying to save money to leave her violent and abusive partner.
The vast majority of the victims – many of whom were from the Rochdale, Bury and Oldham areas – were unable to get their money back.
Khaliq deployed a number of tactics for avoiding customer complaints including operating under false names; for example, he corresponded under the name ‘Jack Daniels’ with a number of victims.
Bolton Crown Court also heard of other scams, one of which was an insurance claims fraud.
Bogus quotes and invoices were submitted from two fabricated firms, when in reality the works were done by the business’s own handymen at a fraction of the cost.
Khaliq and Dickinson also collected rent for 119 properties they managed on behalf of liquidators Ernst and Young, but the court heard they failed to pass the rent on.
There was also council tax fraud, and theft of rent from landlords, according to Trading Standards.
Khaliq admitted two counts of making an article for use in fraud, two of conspiracy to commit fraud, one of theft and three counts of fraud.
He was also ordered to repay £100,000 under a Proceeds of Crime Act order, of which £9,500 is to be paid to the deposit fraud vicitms, plus court costs of £125,000. He was disqualified from being a company director for ten years.
Dickinson admitted theft and six counts of fraud, but walked free from court with a two-year suspended sentence.
He was ordered to pay £24,280 and prosecution costs of £15,000, was disqualified from being a company director for six years and told to complete 240 hours of unpaid work.
Judge Graeme Smith said he was giving a suspended sentence so that Dickinson could look after his ten-year-old twin sons, one of whom is seriously ill.
In 2013, Khaliq was featured in an episode of Channel 4′s Landlords from Hell, when presenter Dominic Littlewood doorstepped him at his office.