Letting agent jailed for £210,000 fraud

Letting agent Keith Ranson stole more than £210,000 from landlords and tenants to fuel a lavish lifestyle.

Ranson, 40, stole the money to repay credit card debts and to finance extravagant family holidays as his property business in Plymouth, Devon, collapsed.

Ranson was being sentenced after pleading guilty to fraud by abuse of position between August 2007 and May 2010.

The judge at Plymouth Crown Court heard he had taken £210,177.

Recorder Paul Derbyshire told the disgraced letting agent he stole the money instead of facing up to his problems.

“The recession started to bite and your income declined steeply. That was the situation faced by many thousands of people all over the country. They did not turn to crime like you. They battled through it, while you took the easy way out.”

Ranson ran a letting agency called R House with two branches in the city.

He stole he held as rent deposits for tenants and landlords that should have stayed in a money protection scheme.

The court heard the letting agency started trading well, but profits slumped and Ranson turned to the money that should have stayed on protection to keep the business going and to fund his family’s lifestyle.

The true scale of the fraud is unknown – but once Ranson withdrew £40,000 of client cash to pay £15,000 off his credit card, while the rest went towards holidays.

R House was wound up by voluntary liquidation, leaving insurers to pay out £106,000 to tenants who lost cash, while other claims are still being dealt with.

Co-director Melanie Cairns, 52, denied fraud by abuse of position, but the prosecution decided not to prosecute after she repaid £10,000 she had taken and spent on home improvements.


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