TENANTS, landlords and liquidators say they have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket by the director of a lettings agency chain that went bust.
Anthony Morgan - which had branches in Market Square, Waltham Abbey, and Station Road, Chingford - went into liquidation earlier this year.
Director Darren Briggs, 42, sent letters to tenants and property owners informing them of the action in March and insisting all deposits were safe.
But months later furious clients claim they have yet to receive a penny - while Mr Briggs went on to set up a new lettings company, Morgan Fox, in Harolds Road, Harlow, in May.
Alan Schroder, 32, of the Round Hill estate in Waltham Abbey, let out his flat through Anthony Morgan.
He claims Mr Briggs took £1,700 of rent from his tenant up front – but failed to pass the money on.
“He basically took three months’ rent up front without our knowledge,” he said.
“We just never got anything out of him.”
Mr Schroder also claimed Mr Briggs had failed to safeguard his tenant’s deposit through the government’s protection scheme, as is required of letting agents.
Andrew Hodges and Sarah Allen, of The Ridgeway, Chingford, rented a property through Anthony Morgan in September last year.
They claim they are owed £2,280 in a deposit, while their landlord is owed £1,600 in outstanding rent.
"He sent a letter and it states that he's going into voluntary liquidation but all deposits are safe," said taxi driver Mr Hodges, 35, who has yet to see a penny.
He said he had last spoken to Mr Briggs in September this year, but he had since stopped picking up the phone.
"I just want to see him prosecuted. Obviously I want my money back, but I don't think I'm going to get it," he added.
Mum-of-six Erzsebet Halasi, 48, claims she paid £3,800 in a deposit, a month's rent and an administration fee to Morgan Fox in June.
Days before she was due to move into her new home in Croston Road, Chingford, Mr Briggs told her the landlord had pulled out.
He agreed to return her money, but Mrs Halasi had to wait until August before a cheque arrived - only for it to bounce.
"The lost money was my children's heritage. I have received nothing," said the 48-year-old, who now lives in Edinburgh.
Both Mrs Halasi and Mr Hodges have reported Mr Briggs to Essex Police. A force spokesman confirmed police were investigating six allegations of fraud against an estate agents in Harlow.
He said: “Officers were contacted on October 26th. The allegations date back to June 2011. The victims include two men from Chingford, a man from Waltham Abbey, a man from Wood Green and a woman from Edinburgh.”
Nick Simmonds, partner at RSM Tenon who acted as liquidators for Anthony Morgan, also confirmed he was taking action against Mr Briggs.
"He's taken his business, which we've valued. He's taken clients. He's taken an asset from one company to another and he seems to think he doesn't have to pay for it and I think he does," he said.
"I've demanded monies. After the period for those demands has expired, I could instruct a bailiff or I could petition for bankrupcy or a winding up of his company or both."
Mr Briggs admitted owing money to Mrs Halasi, but said she was being investigated by his solicitor after posting comments criticising him in a Facebook group she set up.
“Money is going back to her," he said.
"It’s always been promised to be moved back to her on the proviso that she remove defamatory remarks.
“There’s not an element of fraud that’s taking place. The company’s been liquidated voluntarily.
"A new company’s been set up which is Morgan Fox.”
He also denied owing money to Mr Simmonds or to anybody except current tenants.
“I have not taken any assets,” he added. “I don’t owe him any money because he hasn’t finished the job.”