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Written by rosalind renshaw

Agents are warned that at least one fraudster claiming affluent foreign connections has been stalking sales of upmarket houses and stealing expensive jewellery during viewings.

In Essex, at least three agents have reported that a man, usually posing as the representative of a wealthy Russian, arranges viewings.

According to one, he calls himself Oleg. He uses four-wheel drive vehicles, is shaven-headed, tall, well spoken, and wears Ray-Bans.

Once at the property, he makes positive noises about the property and asks for time alone to confer with his client on his mobile. The agent, who beats a discreet retreat, then hears what appears to be a conversation in Russian – although some agents have said that the language sounds closer to a middle Eastern tongue.

Later, jewellery is discovered to have been stolen.

Essex police are investigating and we are told that one agent may be able to produce DNA evidence from a drinks can.

In central London, a similar-sounding scam has resulted in the theft of £500,000 worth of jewellery from Formula 1 heiress Petra Ecclestone, which has been reported in the national press.

The jewellery was apparently stolen from her £32m mansion after it was viewed by a fake ‘Kazakh millionaire’.

The home of the daughter of F1 billionaire Bernie Ecclestone in London’s Belgravia is on the market.

London estate agents have reported in the past few months that a man calling himself Oleg who wears sunglasses has viewed several other multi-million pound properties.

One agent said ‘Oleg’ had turned up in a chauffeur-driven Bentley and never removed his sunglasses; he is now not responding to phone calls on the numbers he had supplied.

The agent added: “This theft has now been relayed among the people who work in this property market.”

Essex police are advising agents and owners that they should accompany viewers at all times.

Agents everywhere beware. Scammers have a habit of moving around.

Comments

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    Knowing the celeb status of the vendor should have made the agent extra vigilant.

    • 09 August 2013 20:47 PM
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    I am an estate agent and have been for 12 years, under no circumstances would I ever leave a client unattended in a room. If that was me, I would have been instantly suspiscious at such a request anyway and told him to make the phonecall outside. Such a shame that this agent was totally niave!

    • 09 August 2013 13:18 PM
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    Take care he truns up without the sunglasses, stupid agents and comments on here. Who is the stupid agent, haven they lost the instruction?

    • 09 August 2013 12:29 PM
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    Firstly I agree with Clare - he should not have been left alone - why does he need privacy when he was speaking in a different language anyway? At most I would have stepped outside the room but I would have left the door open.
    Secondly, why would someone leave £500K's worth of Jewellery lying around knowing Agents and Buyers will be walking in and out? I personally wouldn't even trust an Agent (and I am one) as £500K is a lot of temptation and for someone who is in a dire financial situation that temptation may be too much. They could be on a plane to the other end of the world by the time the theft is discovered and every Agent and Buyer tracked down and interrogated.
    So, without belittling the theft itself, Miss Ecclestone has obviously got a little more money than sense as she should have put her valuables in a safe.

    • 09 August 2013 10:42 AM
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    What checks is the agent doing before viewings?

    What is the reg number of the Bentley?

    • 09 August 2013 09:14 AM
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    Why would any trained estate agent leave anyone alone in a room full of valuables even for a minute?
    When a vendor hands keys over to an agent, the agent becomes a trusted custodian of the property and therefore responsible for who sees the property and what happens on viewings.
    Would YOU let a complete stranger wander around your home unaccompanied?
    The idea that a drinks can may hold clues to the identity highlights that we appear to have learned nothing since the days of Suzy Lamplugh. What if it was a person that went missing?
    This is yet another example of the industry looking unprofessional and there is no excuse for it!

    • 09 August 2013 08:26 AM
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