Two letting agents, who scammed tenants and landlords out of over £24,000, have been sentenced by a court for their crimes.

Sultana Akther, 40, of Spencer Road in Rainham and Skeena Noor Rashid, 27, of Herold Mugford Terrace in Beckton, pleaded guilty to fraudulent trading at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday (May 3) after a lengthy probe into the activities of several letting agencies.

Barking and Dagenham Council officers supported National Trading Standards Regional Investigations team (NTS) in their investigation after a series of complaints linked to Signature London Ltd and Signature London Group Ltd.

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Reports suggested that tenants had their rent deposit collected and never returned and had their holding funds stolen.

In case of landlords, the collected rents by the two letting agents had not been transferred into their accounts.

It was found that Akther and Rashid had defrauded victims of at least £24,000 through a range of these letting and rental scams and are sentenced for their crimes.

Akther was ordered a 14 months’ imprisonment suspended for 18 months concurrent for each indictment and fined 2,000.

Rashid was given a 24 months’ community order, including 80 hours of unpaid work.

Councillor Syed Ghani, Cabinet Member for Enforcement & Community Safety in Barking and Dagenham, said the accused may have thought they had a “full proof scam” which would have made it difficult or impossible for victims to recover their money.

“I want to thank our Trading Standards officers for sticking with it and ensuring justice is served”, he added.

Trish Burls, Chair of the NTS Tri Regional Investigation Team said the investigation highlights the value of partnership work between regional and local Trading Standards officers.

The chair said: “Taking advantage of first-time buyers, exploiting homeowners’ desires to move and disrupting the everyday practice of reputable landlords demonstrates the utter disregard the defendants had for the wellbeing of others.

“I hope that today’s result sends out a clear message that this type of offending will not be tolerated”.