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Trading standards prosecution sees duo jailed for £400k theft from lettings agency

A letting agent and her boyfriend have been jailed for stealing more than £400,000 from a lettings agency in Sutton Coldfield, following a prosecution led by Birmingham City Council’s Trading Standards team.

Amy Williams, 28 of Farrier Close, Sutton Coldfield, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years imprisonment, after pleading guilty to 24 offences under the Theft Act 1968 and the Fraud Act 2006 at an earlier hearing. She was also disqualified from holding any director’s post for seven years.

Glen Austin, 46, of Wesley Road, Erdington was also jailed for two-and-a-half years after he pleaded guilty to one offence under the Theft Act 1968.

Birmingham City Council prosecuted the pair after officers received numerous complaints from landlords and tenants registered with Williams & Young Ltd, based at 7a High Street, Sutton Coldfield.

Officers were first contacted in February 2015 by landlords and tenants unable to get hold of anyone at Williams & Young Ltd to report missing monies or agreements.

Since then around 30 victims have come forward with complaints, reporting frauds totalling about £65,700.

According to the council, between 1 May 2013 and 17 July 2015, Williams stole more than £408,800 from the company’s credit balance, and paid it into Austin’s bank account. During this period Austin, who had a gambling habit, made bets of more than £800,000 with Ladbrokes via his account with the betting firm.

Austin subsequently claimed this was done in agreement with Williams, in a bid to raise enough money to pay off a former director of the lettings agency.

“However, when company funds were running low, Williams began defrauding tenants and landlords directly, taking deposits and advance rent from prospective tenants but not passing it over to landlords. She also took money from different people for the same properties to top up both the company’s and her boyfriend’s bank accounts,” the council said.

Chris Neville, Head of Trading Standards for Birmingham City Council, said: “This fraud was not only heartless, leaving landlords and tenants out of pocket, but it was foolish – using company funds to finance a string of bets to raise more money.

“Tenants paid deposits and advance rents to Williams & Young Ltd in good faith, and in some cases landlords were unaware this was the case as the money had not been passed on.

“This court action shows we will pursue and prosecute those unscrupulous individuals responsible, and I welcome the judge’s ruling in this case.”

Both Williams and Austin told the court they had repaid some monies back into Williams & Young Ltd’s company account.

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