'Brazen' tenant tried to sell his landlord's house for £400,000 in 'almost unbelievable' crime
A tenant who tried to sell the house he was renting for £400,000 without his landlord finding out has been jailed for what police called an "almost unbelievable" crime.
Andrew Smith, 41, filled the house with rented showroom furniture and faked an estate agent to list it online for sale just days after moving in.
He was only caught out when his prospective buyer conducted a drain survey before moving in and the neighbours warned them that they thought the house in Cambridge was a rental.
Smith rented the three-bedroomed house in Argyle Street in 2020 and told his landlord that he was moving to the area for work.
The house appeared online for sale less than two weeks after he had received the keys.
Two potential buyers contacted the fake agents and a sale price was agreed with one of them. In June 2022, the victim, who believed they were buying the house, visited the property with the surveyor.
While they were there, the neighbours explained they thought the house was a rental and not for sale, and advised them to contact the letting agent.
The victim then contacted the police, who discovered that the documents Smith had provided to the letting agent in 2020 were fraudulent.
Officers caught up with Smith at an address in Bedford and arrested him.
He later pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and entering into money laundering.
Smith, of Gardeners Close, Flitwick, Bedford, was sentenced to a total of two years and six months in prison at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
Det Con Dan Harper said: "This is an almost unbelievable and truly brazen crime, which saw an innocent buyer almost part with more than £400,000 for a property that was never for sale in the first place.
"The investigation has been long and detailed and we have worked tirelessly to make sure justice has been served.”
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