The director of a Cambridgeshire property management company has been jailed after admitting stealing £140,000 of clients’ money.
Mark Procter, 50, of Barker Close in Hail Weston, St Neots, appeared at Cambridge Crown Court on Friday (February 24) and was sentenced to a total of three years and four months in prison.
The court heard how he withdrew clients’ deposits throughout 2014 and 2015 to pay for divorce proceedings and luxury holidays.
A police investigation was launched in July 2015 after the National Approved Lettings Scheme discovered one of their member firms, Kirby Property Management, had falsified an accounts report and bank statements.
Allegations were made that Procter had moved clients’ deposit money from allocated bank accounts into his own personal account and spent the money for his own personal gain. The forged accounts report was to cover up what was already ongoing with the movement of money.
On January 19 this year (2017) Procter pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation, having signed a form in the name of his accountant and submitted it to the National Approved Lettings Scheme.
He also pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position where between April 1, 2013, and July 31, 2015, he made a financial gain for himself from his clients’ accounts.
Detective Constable Mat Belfitt said: “In total there were 400 tenants with the company who were all victims of fraud, as well as approximately 400 landlords who have also suffered a loss because of Mr Procter’s actions.
“He caused a great inconvenience and a large amount of stress to all involved, turning his hand to criminality in order to fund his personal life going on luxury holidays and buying expensive cars.”
The court heard Procter’s accountants realised something was not right in June 2015 and contacted the National Approved Letting Scheme. Procter was asked to explain the forgery, which he was unable to do.
The firm that guarantees the deposits for tenants suffered a loss of £140,000 in claims which were pending with those who had their deposits stolen by Procter.
During sentencing, Judge Farrel said: “This is a serious case of dishonesty. The fact you, as a company director, forged the signature of a professional man, an accountant, in order to continue a business is a significant act of dishonesty.
“This went on for a significant period of time and it’s a case of significant harm and of high culpability. The affects are so serious only immediate custody is appropriate.”
On Friday afternoon Procter was sentenced to three years and four months in prison on both charges, to run concurrently, and was disqualified from being a company director for six years.