5 May 2013

Kenyan immigrant systematically stole benefits

A benefits cheat who raked in so much cash she bought three homes in London and one in her native Kenya  has been ordered to repay £300,000.

Gladys Popoola claimed the 'full range' of benefits, despite the fact that she had three jobs and her husband worked – building up a half million pound property portfolio. (More detail here.)

The 47-year-old admitted 16 counts relating to fraud at Southwark Crown Court and was jailed for 24 months last year.

Her six-year web of deceit started as soon as she was granted leave to remain in Britain in 2004.

She began applying for the full range of welfare, including income support and housing and council tax benefits, despite the fact her husband, John Ndirangu, had a job.

Mother-of-one Popoola duped the authorities into giving her two National Insurance numbers, one in her real name and the other in her maiden name, so she could work and claim at the same time.

When she was caught in 2011, she worked three jobs - two in housing groups and one at the Hammersmith and Fulham council – but still claimed Jobseeker's Allowance.

In that time, she bought properties in Cricklewood, Forest Gate and Clapton – and even one in Kenya.

The fraudster also claimed legal aid in civil proceedings against her last year and made money by renting out her London homes.

Popoola, of north west London, was jailed for two years in March 2012 after admitting 13 counts of benefit fraud and three other counts of fraud relating to obtaining a national insurance number.

She has already been released on licence after serving less than half of her sentence.

David Jugnarain, prosecuting, said her fraud also included an application to the government for maternity pay, despite the fact she was already receiving it.

He said at the original court case: ‘The value of the fraud in this case is just in excess of £200,000 .’

In addition, she falsely claimed legal aid when she was sacked from the council, when they realised she working another job despite the fact she was signed off sick.

Popoola has now - after all this time, she was jailed 14 months ago - been ordered to repay a total of £304,079, including £186,000 compensation to Westminster City Council and HMRC, within six months.

The cash will be taken from her assets which are holed up in her three UK properties.

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