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To provide some updates..
1. DPS have confirmed deposits not registered but do not really provide any other assistance other than whether there is a record of a deposit against an address / tenant surname etc
2. In order to get trading standards involved I have to go through Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline (as it seems I cannot engage trading standards direct).. they referred me to Citizens Advice Leeds..who referred me back to Consumer Helpline..! so I will go back there.
3. They also referred to try ActionFraud - which is the fraud dept of police and I believe this will generate a crime number and as I said there are at least 4-5 landlords who have been affected by this, and so I cannot see how it cannot be taken seriously .. in my view it is both theft and fraud
4. The letting agent has gone incommunicado (cancelled all mobile numbers and not replying to emails) and this week sold her business ! So she is more or less 'digitally' on the run, / hiding but her whereabouts is known.
Thanks for the helpful comments to date, all of those affected are determined to get justice..
Why did you not check up with the deposit taking institution that the deposits were actually registered. Taking a piece of paper stating it had been registered was very naive. This is particularly important in the light of so many similar cases reported over the years with renting agents. As you appear to be having difficulties trying to get some one to take action, go to your local MP and get them to approach the local police commissioner to explain why they will not take up this fraud case. You will at least get a response. I recently used up all avenues for a response by the police and after getting my MP involved they soon responded. Local commissioners don't like being held accountable to the local MP's so tend to take some action.
I wouldn't say I was naive - more hoodwinked into false trust...! I was paying someone for a service, which on the face of it checked out and had no issues for the past 3 years until now. They were not just pieces of paper but signed documents by the agent to state deposits correctly lodged ..... needless to say I have checked with other agents I use for correct proof.
Thanks for the recommendation to contact the local MP, which may well be an option if I do not break through with the Police.