A court has heard how two landlords have lost thousands of pounds to a tenant who allegedly claimed to be their London flat’s legal owner and went on to sub-let it while they were 6,000 miles away in Africa.
The London Standard reports that Joanna Reid, 31, and her husband Alasdair, 30, were victims of one of the capital’s fastest-growing scams in which fraudulent tenants impersonate their landlords to claim deposits and re-let homes at inflated rents.
The newspaper says the couple rented out their £1,600 per month flat in Streatham Hill via the website Gumtree to Canadian Heidi Korn, a 48 year old veterinary physiotherapist, while they went to do voluntary work in Uganda.
Korn, from Ontario, has been jailed for eight months by Inner London Crown Court for eight months after being convicted of fraud.
Korn moved into the couple’s flat in September 2013 but fell into arrears two months later. As steps were being taken for her eviction, she advertised the flat online claiming to be the legal owner.
The court heard that she tricked two unwitting young professionals into paying an £1,800 deposit after sending them emails from a fake account.
Korn was only caught when her would-be tenants sent a paper copy of the contract to the address they were about to move into. The letter was redirected to the real owners.
The genuine owners were forced to cut short their trip to Africa to return to London to resolve the issue.
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