A housing association tenant who planted family photos around his flat to fool investigators while illegally subletting it has been handed a suspended prison sentence.
Franck Guei, 29, insisted he was still living at the one-bedroom flat in Ashburnham Court, Bedford, but was actually charging a work colleague £430 a month to live there.
He pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to subletting the Bedford Pilgrims Housing Association (BPHA) property, and was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, at Luton Magistrate's Court on May 19.
He was also ordered to complete 180 hours unpaid work and pay back £11,310 of the unlawful profits and legal costs.
The court heard how an investigation by Bedford Borough Council's investigation team and BPHA discovered evidence Guei moved out of his flat and was living with his ex-partner. But he maintained he and his family were living there, and even went to the lengths of planting family photographs and leaving personal possessions behind to convince investigators of his lies. He also claimed the locks had been changed without his knowledge.
Guei has now voluntarily ended his tenancy and returned the keys to this property.
Cllr Michael Headley, portfolio holder for finance at Bedford Borough Council, said: "Anyone subletting a housing association property is depriving a family in need of a home. By investigating these matters the council is able to make more properties available to provide safe and secure homes for those most in need. The council will not stand for abuse and fraud and will take action against those found to be subletting or lying to obtain properties."
Social housing fraud is the most wicked form of welfare fraud. The sums that can be saved are huge, but it's so much more than the money - needy families are being deprived of the chance to have a settled home that meets their needs.