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Scam Artist Posing as Letting Agent Jailed for Duping Couple

Michael Tutt, a 40-year-old man, has been sentenced to 10 months in prison for posing as a letting agent and scamming a couple out of £425. The fraud involved creating a fictitious estate agency website and adopting a fake identity to exploit the victims, who were seeking a rental property in Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire.

A Scheme Unraveled
The deception unfolded in May 2022 when the couple responded to a property listing and encountered ‘Mark Matheson,’ an alias used by Tutt, as the estate agent. Following Tutt’s instructions, they paid a £425 holding fee and arranged to meet for the signing of the tenancy agreement. However, Tutt failed to show up at the agreed meeting point in Costa Coffee and ceased all communication with the couple.

Growing suspicious, the victims conducted their investigation, leading them to discover Tutt’s fraudulent activities. They learned not only that ‘Mark Matheson’ was a fabricated identity but also that the property in question was not available for rent, as confirmed by its current occupants. The discovery prompted the couple to alert both their bank and the police.

Court Proceedings and Sentencing
During the trial at Southampton Crown Court, prosecutor Keely Harvey detailed the couple’s ordeal and their efforts to uncover the truth behind the scam. In defense, Paul Patterson argued that Tutt showed significant remorse following his arrest and highlighted his attempts at rehabilitation and reemployment.

Judge Nicholas Rowland, however, emphasised the severity of Tutt’s actions, noting the premeditated nature of the scam and its impact on the victims. Despite recognizing the defendant’s purported remorse, Judge Rowland concluded that the offense warranted immediate imprisonment, dismissing the potential for rehabilitation in this instance.

The case serves as a stark reminder of the risks associated with fraudulent activities in the rental market and the judiciary’s commitment to protecting individuals from such deceptive practices.