A tenant who tried to sell the house that he rented has been jailed for the “almost unbelievable” crime.
Andrew Smith, 41, began renting the three-bed home in Cambridge in February 2020, and less than two weeks after receiving the keys it appeared for sale online via a fake estate agent company.
A price was agreed with a potential buyer but the victim visited the property with a drain surveyor and spoke to neighbours, who said they thought the house was tenanted and not for sale.
He contacted police following the visit in June 2022 and officers discovered that many documents Smith had provided to the letting agent were fraudulent.Smith had also made payments, shortly after moving in, to a furniture rental company which supplies furniture for show homes, Cambridgeshire Police said.
The force said he was arrested in Bedford and later admitted to fraud by false representation and entering into money laundering.
Smith, of Gardeners Close, Flitwick, Bedford, was sentenced at Brighton Magistrates’ Court to two years and six months in prison at a hearing on Friday, Cambridgeshire Police said.
The defendant had claimed he was moving to the area for work when he began renting the home in Argyle Street.
Detective Constable Dan Harper said: “This is an almost unbelievable and truly brazen crime, which saw an innocent buyer almost part with more than £400,000 for a property that was never for sale in the first place.
“The investigation has been long and detailed and we have worked tirelessly to make sure justice has been served.”