28 Jan 2013

Housing benefit thief jailed

A man who fraudulently claimed £12,500 in housing benefit by using fake tenancy documents has been jailed for 12 months (h/t Dave).

Isaac Mubanga Kaunda, 30, had welfare payments made directly to his bank account for a property which he didn't actually live in.

The crook's ruse lasted for 15 months, during which he claimed he lived at Derwent Court, Eleanor Close, Southwark.

The fraud was exposed after the council wrote to the private landlord of Derwent Close to verify details about Kaunda’s benefit claim, following a number of scheduled and unscheduled visits.

The landlord confirmed he did not know the claimant and the case was subsequently referred to the fraud team.

In his application for housing benefit, Kaunda claimed he found the flat on the classifieds website Gumtree, and was being charged up to £900 per month by a fictitious landlord from Grays, Thurrock.

During a later interview under caution he admitted he had never lived or visited the property at Derwent Close.

He was sentenced on January 17 at Woolwich Crown Court.

Councillor Richard Livingstone, cabinet member for resources at Southwark Council, said:
The council continues to take a zero tolerance stance on the falsification of any documentation used for benefit claims, or entitlement to private or council housing. We have a number of initiatives in place to detect such crime. Fraudulent acts that directly or indirectly impact available resources which should be for the benefit of bona fide Southwark residents and communities will not be tolerated.

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