Couple defrauds Clients of £400k, Gambles it away

A UK couple was sentenced this week after bilking would-be renters out of £400,000, then gambling the money away.

Amy Williams, 27, and her boyfriend, Glen Austin, 46, targeted people looking to rent Birmingham apartments. They rented out the same properties to multiple people, leaving some homeless in the process after running off with their deposit money.

The Birmingham Crown Court sentenced Williams to four and a half years in prison for theft and 26 counts of fraud. Austin was given two and a half years after pleading guilty to theft.

The couple ran a letting agency (facilitates deals between tenants and landlords) and siphoned off more than £400,000 from renter deposits, which Austin used to feed his gambling addiction.

According to the Birmingham Mail, one couple lost a £10,000 deposit, a woman lost her life savings, and some people were left completely homeless.

Prosecuting attorney Ben Mills painted the picture of a greedy, immoral couple who cared nothing about their clients. Williams and Austin would rent the same property to multiple people, then leave them “high and dry” while gambling the money or buying unnecessary luxuries.

“They never got their tenancy and had nowhere to live,” said Mills. “She was prepared to leave them effectively homeless so that she and her boyfriend could benefit from money they had handed over.”

One example of the couple’s fraudulent practices included an apartment in an area called The Hub, where 12 victims were promised vacancy. The supposed tenants eventually complained to Austin and Williams, then to the Birmingham trading standards.

Mills said that nine landlords were also “systematically defrauded” out of £45,000 as Williams received rent money from the tenants, then kept it instead of advancing the funds.

In all, the couple made off with £409,000 from a combination of defrauded tenants and landlords. Austin then used much of this money to place £600,000 worth of casino and sports bets – most of which were unsuccessful.

While passing sentencing, Judge Philip Parker QC said, “Both the tenants and the landlords were left in an impossible position. Landlords were left trying to unravel the position causing immense upset and distress.”

Parker added that these were not big-time commercial lenders, but rather small-time business people who were investing for their future.

Defense attorney Paul Mytton said that Williams and Austin did not originally intend to deceive their clients. Instead, they hoped to win back enough money through bets to keep the company afloat.

Chris Neville, Head of Trading Standards for Birmingham City Council, scolded this notion for how foolish it was.

“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,” said Neville. “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.”

Williams and Austin had repaid some of the money back into the Williams & Young company’s account. However, it wasn’t enough to save them from lengthy prison sentences.