A CONMAN from Warwick who used his job at an estate agents to trick students into paying deposits totalling thousands of pounds for flats they could not move into has been jailed.
A judge at Warwick Crown Court heard that Barinder Uppal cheated 12 mainly overseas students and a man who wanted to buy a house to get money to support his gambling addiction.
The 29 year-old of Achilles Close, Heathcote, was jailed for 12 months after pleading guilty to 13 charges of fraud.
Prosecutor Paul Dhami said in June last year, while he was working for Coventry estate agents Reed Rains, Uppal began placing adverts on the internet offering student accommodation.
A number of people contacted him, and he arranged viewings before taking cash or bank transfer deposits from the students, some of whom were being offered the same accommodation.
“All bar one were students who had come to study in the UK – so English was their second language, and therefore there was a degree of vulnerability because he appeared to be bona fide.
“Some described him arriving in a white Bentley, giving the impression of being a successful businessman.”
Uppal, who had been given a conditional discharge for a fraud in 2014, made a total of £13,560 from his deception.
Mr Dhami said the largest amount of £5,500 had been obtained by Uppal defrauding a man who was looking to buy a house, while the others lost from £250 up to around £1,500.
After complaints to the police Uppal, who lost his job as a result, attended a police station by arrangement in September and said he had carried out the frauds to fund a gambling habit.
Mr Dhami added Uppal will be subject to a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing following an investigation into his assets.
Christopher Jones, defending, said said Uppal, who had worked for the estate agents for six months, now acted to recover stolen vehicles for car hire companies, for which he is paid on commission.
Jailing Uppal, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: “It is a great pity to see someone like you using your intelligence to defraud people in this way. There was significant planning in this fraud and a large number of victims.
“The message must go out that someone who uses their position to defraud vulnerable people in this way must got to custody.”