CONVICTED COUNCIL FRAUDSTER GETS EXTRA JAIL TIME
A fraudster who was brought to justice by Southwark council in one of the country’s largest housing fraud cases will be made to serve a further two years in prison.
In 2014 the man was sentenced to four years for abusing his position of trust as a homelessness worker. He was then ordered to pay back his gain of £100,000 to the council following a proceeds of crime investigation led by the council’s fraud team.
The order was granted on 21 July 2015 at Isleworth crown court where it was agreed that repayments should be made from available assets, which can include selling property.
His co-defendant and ex wife was also ordered to pay £15,000 but unlike her ex-husband, had made reasonable efforts to repay the sum.
At a recent enforcement hearing, it was revealed the man had made minimal effort to repay the confiscation amount, paying only £1,600 towards the order and refusing to relinquish a property to cover the debt. A default sentence of two years was therefore handed to him.
The presiding judge commented saying: “I find without a shadow of a doubt that you are deliberately refusing to pay. “I am also satisfied that you have assets that you refuse to sell.”
Using data from Operation Amberhill, a police database of fake identity documents, it was found that over a three year period the man, his mother, two ex-wives, his aunt and two other defendants fraudulently obtained council houses for themselves and for others, conning the council and those in genuine need of council housing out of much needed properties.
Further checks, carried out jointly with the Home Office’s immigration compliance and enforcement team and HMRC, confirmed that the fraudulent applications had resulted in council homes being allocated to people who were not legally allowed to be in the country.
Southwark’s cabinet member for housing Cllr Richard Livingstone said: “The man’s refusal to make an honest contribution towards the confiscation order shows a lack of remorse for his deeds and justifies an extended prison sentence.
“Our impressive track record in fraud detection is testament to how seriously we take housing fraud, especially at a time when budgets are being squeezed and London’s housing crisis means that it’s absolutely critical that council homes are allocated to genuine applicants.”
Southwark council have introduced a number of measures to prevent housing fraud including: the use of identity scanners, credit checks and most recently the launch of http://www.ilatch.co.uk/, an online tenancy checker to help prevent and detect tenancy fraud. (Source: Southwark council press release)