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Showing posts with label anonymous tip off. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anonymous tip off. Show all posts

23 Apr 2018

Small fine for 2 years' illegal sub-letting

A council house tenant has been fined for subletting following an investigation by Plymouth anti-fraud detectives.

Dean Kelly admitted subletting his council flat in Clifton Road, Exeter, from 28 September 2014 until August 2016.

The 46-year-old pleaded guilty to the offence at Plymouth Magistrates Court and was fined £325, ordered to pay back the £5,985 he benefited from by subletting the property, a victim surcharge of £32 and £450 costs.

The court heard that at the time of the offence, Kelly was working away in the county where he was staying with his girlfriend.

He decided to sublet his council property to a friend of his mother and arranged for the unlawful sub-tenant to pay £540 a month into his bank account.

This amount was later increased to £590 and then £610 a month.

An investigation, carried out by Plymouth City Council's Fraud Team on behalf of the Devon Tenancy Fraud Group, was started after an anonymous telephone caller alleged that the tenant was not occupying the property but was instead sub-letting it to someone else.

Ken Johnson, Corporate Fraud Team Manager, said: “This case is yet another successful prosecution against a social housing fraudster, in this case one who was making a profit at the expense of those in genuine need. Fraudsters divert money and resources from already pressurised front line council services and should not be tolerated. This and other results should serve notice on offenders that we will not only combat fraud in Plymouth but across the region.”

After the case, an Exeter City Council spokesman said that social housing fraud costs the UK economy £1.8 billion a year.

“At a time when social housing is at a premium, this criminal behaviour is totally unacceptable," he said.

“Exeter City Council has a zero tolerance approach to fraud and will continue to protect the public purse. Fraudulent activity diverts money and resources from those who legitimately have need of council services and contributes to higher council tax bills."

Source

14 Feb 2018

Light sentence for social housing fraud

A woman has been kicked out of her council house after admitting she already owned a three-bedroom home.

Gillian Norris has been living in social housing in Great Milton for more than four years, having fraudently applied via the housing register.

The 46-year-old has been ordered to pay £1,530 after councils discovered she already owned a home in Holyhead, Wales, at the time of applying.

Councillors said she 'deprived a family in genuine need of a house', and stressed social housing fraud is not a 'victimless crime'.

Norris, of Green Hitchings in Great Milton, pleaded guilty at Oxford Magistrates' Court to one charge of knowingly or recklessly making a false statement in connection to the allocation of housing.

It is the first time someone has been convicted for housing fraud in South Oxfordshire.

Magistrates heard she had been living in the three-bedroom SOHA Housing house, and had been renting out her other home to a family member.

Norris would not have been eligible to apply for social housing if she had disclosed that she already owned the property.

She was caught following an anonymous tip-off and subsequent investigation by SOHA Housing, South Oxfordshire District Council and Oxford City Council.

Following her guilty plea on January 30, Norris was fined £250 and ordered to pay £1,250 and a £30 victim surcharge.

Jane Murphy, deputy leader of the district council, said: “Social housing is there to provide a vital resource for those who are in genuine need and do not have the money available to rent a home privately. We have a significant housing shortage, not just in South Oxfordshire but across the country, with people really struggling to find appropriate accommodation. By making and maintaining this fraudulent claim this lady has effectively deprived a family in genuine need of a house.”

The councils are now working make the home available again on the housing register.

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This is a trivial sentence for taking up social housing for four years.

27 Feb 2017

Another unlawful profit order for illegal sub-letting

A Council tenant has been ordered to pay almost £3,000 by way of an Unlawful Profit Order in addition to a further £2,914 in costs to the Council - after letting out his property on the website AirBnB. (h/t Tenancy Fraud)

Peter John Wootton, aged 46, of Coastguard Flats, West Looe, was due to appear at Bodmin Magistrates Court on Wednesday 22 February, but failed to attend. As a result, the Magistrates agreed to hear the case in his absence.

During the hearing, the court heard that the Council's Corporate Fraud Investigations Team began investigating Mr Wootton in July 2016 after receiving an anonymous tip off that he had been advertising his property on the website AirBnB. Under the terms of Mr Wootton's tenancy with Cornwall Housing Ltd he did not have permission to sub-let the property.

Further investigations identified 10 instances where payments were made to Mr Wootton, totalling £2,958.

The court heard that a number of attempts had been made to interview Mr Wootton under caution. He eventually attended for interview in November 2016 but decided that he did not want to stay or be shown the various items of documentary evidence. He later sent the Council a short handwritten statement stating that during the summer he had had people staying who he classed as lodgers.

After hearing the case, Magistrates found Mr Wootton guilty of an offence under Section 1 of the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act for sub-letting and parting with possession of his whole dwelling house, ceasing to occupy it as his only or principal home.

Kevin Hill, prosecuting for Cornwall Council, then presented the Court with a Section 4 Notice under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act for an Unlawful Profit Order to the value of £2,958.

The Magistrates awarded full payment of the Unlawful Profit Order of £2,958.00 and, in addition, granted the Council's application for investigation and legal costs totalling £2,914.00. This amount covered the costs of investigating the matter and bringing it before the Court.

Following the conviction, Pete Jarman, Landlord Services Director for Cornwall Housing Ltd, said: "Cornwall Housing Ltd. takes tenancy fraud very seriously and works closely in partnership with Cornwall Council's Corporate Fraud team to identify, investigate and potentially prosecute cases of tenancy fraud. It is important that such a scarce resource as social housing goes to individuals and families who are in genuine housing need."

Simba Muzarurwi, Cornwall Council's Head of Internal Audit and Risk, said: "Our team of professional investigators continue to work with Cornwall Housing Ltd to combat fraud. The Council has a zero tolerance policy on all forms of fraud so the Corporate Counter Fraud Team will leave no stone unturned to ensure that those responsible for perpetrating fraud are brought to book. By continuous checking and investigation of anomalies in information supplied by tenants and potential tenants, we can help ensure that housing in Cornwall is allocated to those in most need."

Source

Despite the brave words, this is another case where the housing provider only found out about the illegal sub-letting through an anonymous tip-off.

24 Feb 2017

Woman sentenced for illegal sub-letting

Ingrid Schultz, 65, travelled abroad, dined out at restaurants and splashed out on shopping sprees after pocketing £10,000 over five years.

The ruse was uncovered by an anonymous telephone call to Genesis Housing Association from someone commenting on the turnover of subtenants at the property in Burton Road, Kilburn.

Genesis referred the case to Brent Council’s Audit and Investigation Team who started collecting evidence on Schultz.

They found she had been illegally subletting the property between March 2010 and November 2015 while living in a neighbouring borough and illegally renting out the loft.

At the expense of taxpayers, Schultz used the profits to finance holidays, meals out and shopping trips.

She pleaded guilty to subletting the property over five years at Harrow Crown Court on February 16 and was handed a 12-month prison term, suspended for two years.

Schultz was served with an unlawful profit order - which requires a landlord to be paid any profit gained from the subletting - in the sum of £10,823 to be paid at the rate of £350 per month.

She was also ordered to pay £1,000 costs along with a £100 surcharge.

Source

This went on under the Housing Association's nose for more than five years. They didn't even spot it themselves, it was only a tip off that brought it to their attention.

How much more illegal subletting have Genesis Housing Association not picked up on? Do they even try? Should this not be part of their job?