A banned West Midlands estate agent has today been sentenced to a custodial sentence of six weeks, suspended for two years, and fined £4,000 at Wolverhampton Crown Court after pleading guilty to unlawfully engaging in estate agency work.
Between August 31 2016 and November 13 2020, Amerjit Singh Dhuga - known as Bobby Singh - deceived customers by continuing to work as an estate agent despite previous convictions for fraud and breaching consumer protection regulations.
Dhuga pleaded guilty to engaging in estate agency work while prohibited and two offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 at a hearing at Wolverhampton Crown Court in June: he was sentenced today.
Dhuga had engaged in estate agency work and engaged in a practice which was a misleading action and contravened the requirements of professional diligence.
An investigation by the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team revealed Dhuga was playing an active part in running the estate agency business, Love Your Postcode Limited, despite being banned from engaging in estate agency work in 2013. His clients were unaware of the ban and would likely not have instructed Love Your Postcode Limited to provide estate agency work if they had known this fact.
The investigation found that Love Your Postcode Limited provided valuations to several consumers which were lower than the “For Sale” price, more often to the sum of £10,000 less, to which Love Your Postcode Limited would retain as a “Performance Fee” as well as the usual commission.
Love Your Postcode Limited also pleaded guilty to breaching professional diligence requirements by failing to declare to customers that Dhuga could not lawfully undertake estate agency work. The company has been fined £16,000 which was reduced to £12,000 because of its early guilty pleas.
Collective prosecution costs were £5,000 and there was a victim surcharge of £170.
Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, says: “Buying or renting a home is a major financial transaction for people and it is important that the public can rely on legitimate estate agents to provide a professional service. Working as an estate agent while banned is against the law and we will take action against dishonest fraudsters who try to con the public.
"This investigation demonstrates the vital role of the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency team in protecting consumers and safeguarding legitimate practice within the estate agency sector.”