Landlords should never go on appearances but should always have their prospective tenants’ credentials professionally checked. That point could hardly have been better made than by one case concerning a serial fraudster who painted herself as well-heeled and glamorous in order to talk her way into a series of tenancies.
The woman used false names, including Onassis and Rothschild, and a range of bogus documents to hoodwink landlords. Variously claiming to be a barrister, an economist and a doctor, she told victims that she owned property worth £250,000 and tricked two high street banks into giving her references.
Once installed in properties, she and her partner in crime would refuse to pay rent and change the locks in order to keep landlords at bay. After their activities grew notorious in one area, they moved to another. She had threatened to hunt down one landlord, a doctor, also making menacing remarks about his wife and child and telling him that she would get him struck off.
After she was arrested and charged, she admitted threatening to take revenge and was convicted of eight counts of fraud and two of using false documents. She was sentenced to five years and two months in jail. The facts of the case emerged as the Court of Appeal ruled that, despite the gravity of her crimes, her overall sentence was excessive and reduced it to three years and eight months.