A mother and daughter who defrauded landlords and tenants on an ‘industrial scale’ while running a letting agency have both been jailed.
Angela Colleen Treneer, 72, was yesterday jailed for one year and four months, and Elizabeth Ann Treneer for three years and four months. Both will have to serve half their sentences before they are eligible for release.
The pair ran Premier Property Management in Truro, Cornwall, with the estimated sum total of the fraud being £266,000.
Forty victims were left out of pocket, including a vulnerable woman in her eighties who lost £30,000.
The mother, known as Colleen, started the business in 1992, with her daughter, known as Ann, becoming more involved as the years went by. In 2007, the business became a partnership. Their criminal activity began in 2009 and spanned eight years.
Prosecutor Alexander Greenwood told Truro Crown Court that rents were not paid to landlords, and deposits were unlawfully retained from at least 40 victims.
He said: “Money was used to maintain Ann and Colleen’s lifestyles.” The money was transferred into their personal bank accounts and spent by them.
He said: “In order to maintain the merry-go-round, funds from one property and landlord would be used to pay another.
“When challenged about the absence of payments, repeated false representations were made over many years falsely blaming accountancy problems, computer system failures, banking problems or other reasons.
“As the years went on the deceit became second nature as landlords and tenants were fobbed off and went unpaid.”
Mr Greenwood said the pair had robbed Peter to pay Paul and that the pair had lied “in almost every aspect of the business dealings to hide their crimes”.
The daughter Ann, he said, was at the heart of the lies and deceit, spinning a web of lies to protect her lavish lifestyle, characterised by foreign holidays.
In December 2016, after numerous complaints, a Cornwall Council Trading Standards officer began to investigate the business.
In a subsequent police interview, the pair tried to deny that the mother Colleen was involved in the business, with Ann manufacturing a document claiming Colleen had retired in 2015.
Defending Ann Treneer, Jason Beal said she had become “lost in a realm of lies”. He said that separation from her young son, who has special needs, would affect both.
For Colleen Treneer, Julia Fox cited her age, health issues, and her husband’s reliance on her.
However, sentencing the pair yesterday, Judge Linford told them: “This was a fraud which had the effect of exploiting some of the more vulnerable in society.
“You did so over a protracted period of time and did so in order to line your own pockets.
“It was dishonesty on an industrial scale from both of you.”
A strong account of the sentencing is carried by local media, which said that the daughter sobbed throughout, while the mother smirked and muttered to herself.