Rogue Agent Who Ordered Staff To Make False Claims Is Jailed

Bhavander Singh Sanghera

The head of a Martin & Co office in Wolverhampton, Bhavander Singh Sanghera, has been sentenced to 28 months in prison for defrauding tenants and ordering his staff to make false claims.

Investigations by Wolverhampton Council revealed that Bhavander Singh Sanghera of Walsall owned two properties at Penn Road – 374 and 374a.

The flats had been leased from Sanghera’s company, EBS Property Limited, trading as Martin & Co Wolverhampton, of which he was also sole director.

In December 2012, a tenant renting the property at 374 Penn Road discovered a physical connection between his electric and gas meters and the supply of 374a.

Martin & Co falsely told the tenant that they were required to pay the utility bills on the neighbouring property because they were apparently receiving a reduced rental rate.

A forged contract with forged signatures and a letter containing provisions for paying utility bills on the neighbouring property were produced, which the court heard could only have been authorised by Sanghera.

Four years later, in November 2016, another tenant of 374 Penn Road did not have his £845 tenancy deposit returned when a long list of criticisms were added to a check-out form – after the tenant’s guarantor’s signature had been received.

A court heard how employees of Martin & Co were also ordered by Sanghera to add unjust mark-ups on maintenance bills issued to landlords in order for the franchise to meet monthly targets.

Sanghera, which also owned a maintenance company Genuine Interiors LTD, produced fake invoices for work that was not carried.

Employees were also advised to get friends and family to post fake positive reviews of the company on Google and were instructed to submit outdated, misleading photos of properties to the Deposit Insurance Scheme (DPS) to provide false evidence of the withholding of property to deliver rent deposits.

The court was told that in 2016 EBS Property Limited did not advise the tenant that 374a’s utilities were connected to 374’s utility meters and that they would both pay utility bills, nor were they informed that the lessor of the property, Sanghera, was also the director of the letting agency.

Other offenses related to the aggressive behavior of EBS Property Limited when it issued eviction notices to tenants in retaliation for complaints they made to the City Council.

Sanghera, of Jesson Road in Walsall, was found guilty of three counts of fraud or fraudulent dealing. He also pleaded guilty to four other unfair trading charges under the 2008 Consumer Protection Rules on behalf of his company, EBS Property Ltd.

Sanghera has been sentenced to 28 months in prison on fraud charges and is awaiting conviction on unfair trade charges. In addition, he was suspended from his position as director for eight years.

Cllr Steve Evans, cabinet member for Urban Environment and Climate Change, commented: “The council takes consumer protection very seriously and will always act to prosecute those who attempt to commit fraud against our residents. People trust agencies like Sanghera to find them a home. That trust should not be shattered by the kind of unscrupulous behavior this case has shown.

“Crimes of this nature have such a tremendous financial and emotional impact on their victims. Sanghera has shown a repeated pattern of fraudulent behavior against its tenants and its employees. I am very pleased that justice has now been done in this case.”

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