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29 Jan 2014

Croydon repossesses benefit thief's house & announces keys amnesty

We last looked at the doings of Theresa Aldous back in September 2012. The law grinds exceeding slow, but now, 16 months later, we have an update from Croydon Council (h/t Dave).

A jailed grandmother who cheated more than £42,000 in benefits has lost her council home.

A district judge has given the council the go-ahead to repossess the home of Theresa Aldous (pictured here) in Kenley. And, at the Croydon Crown Court hearing on Wednesday, 22 January, he also ordered she pay back £8,673.65 rent arrears.

Aldous was sentenced to six months’ jail in April 2012, after she lied to the authorities to claim widow’s benefit, despite remarrying, and told further lies to claim housing benefit on a council house in which she no longer lived. The 64-year-old failed to tell the council she had moved out of the house and was letting her daughter live there as a sub-tenant, effectively rent-free. And when her husband died, she failed to disclose the £19,000 inheritance in her benefits application.

Council investigators found that Aldous had given the inheritance to her family, despite being told she owed the council and the DWP benefits she had falsely claimed.

In September 2012, a judge issued a confiscation order for the same amount following an investigation into her finances under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Yet she was sent back to prison for nine months on January 14 this year for failing to pay back the money.

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As part of a drive to crack down on tenancy fraud, the council next month launches an amnesty to tenants illegally subletting their homes.

They will be allowed to hand back their keys anonymously during February, with the promise that no action will be taken against them by the council. The amnesty campaign is to warn people that illegal subletting is now a criminal offence punishable by a prison sentence and fine.

Councillor Dudley Mead, cabinet member for housing, said:
As we launch our amnesty campaign, this case illustrates that not only will fraudsters end up in jail, but they will lose their home too. Thanks to this court result, it means we have freed up a home for a family that really needs one.

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