Showing posts with label slow administration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label slow administration. Show all posts

30 Apr 2018

Primary school teacher avoids jail after £37k benefits con

A primary school teacher who fraudulently claimed almost £40,000 while failing to notify the authorities her husband was living with her has avoided jail. (h/t Dave)

Olamide Ononeme went on family holidays to Egypt, America and Turkey and built up a bank account balance of £21,500 while carrying out the fraud.

The 42-year-old claimed tax credit payments on the basis she was a single mother of three over three years, despite her husband living at the home in Gough Drive in Tipton.

In total, she claimed £37,859 from November in 2011 to October in 2014.

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard how she was caught out when investigators found a Facebook picture of Olamide and her husband Aruoriwo celebrating their 13th wedding anniversary.

Recorder Anupama Thompson gave mother-of-three Olamide a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for 24 months, and ordered she do 150 hours unpaid work.

Olamide had pleaded guilty to one count of fraud at an earlier hearing.

Her husband, 47, who siphoned thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money while working as benefits officer for Sandwell and Walsall Council, was jailed for 30 months last month.

Sentencing Olamide, Mrs Thompson said: “You made a claim for tax credit when your husband left in 2011. It seems he returned after and rather than telephoning the authority as you knew you had a duty to do, you continued to claim tax credits. It went on for a period of almost three years.”

Caroline Harris, prosecuting, said Olamide had opportunities to notify the authorities when calling up to alert a change in her income in 2013 and 2014.

She said her bank balance went up from £2,500 in 2012 to £21,500 in 2014.

The family also went on holidays to Egypt, America and Turkey, she said.

Tariq Shakoor, defending, said Olamide, who works at a school in Wolverhampton, was not living a living a lavish lifestyle on the proceeds.

He added: “She let herself down because she is a lady of strong Christian values. She is remorseful.” (Ridiculous)

The Facebook picture which revealed the fraud showed the couple and came with a caption written by Aruoriwo saying ‘To God be the glory for 13 glorious, fruitful and happy years of marriage today’.

The joyous words were entered on his Facebook page for all to see on October 9 2012 - 11 months after Olamide had started claiming tax credit on the basis that she was a single mother.

Years later the post helped to prove his wife pocketed tens of thousands of pounds by lying about the state of their marriage when DWP investigators launched an inquiry on behalf of HMRC following a tip off.

The defendant phoned tax credit officials in December 2013 and December 2014 to discuss changes in her personal circumstances without admitting she and her husband were living together in Gough Drive, Tipton. She also failed to tell the truth when filling in annual declaration forms.

Her husband used the address as his own for financial matters such as a mortgage application on March 20 2014 and Walsall Council confirmed he gave the house in Gough Road as his home while working for them.

To make it worse for the corrupt couple he used his position as a finance officer to defraud both Walsall and Sandwell councils out of more than £15,000.

Aruoriwo was employed by both at different times through an agency between 2007 and 2011, before getting a job as a benefits appeal officer with Walsall Council.

He used his knowledge of the system to create fake characters - one of whom was supposed to be Wolverhampton University student and the other supposedly lived at the buy-to-let flat he owned in St Michael’s Street, Walsall - to make bogus claims in their names for single person council tax exemption and housing benefit.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of abusing his position by fraudulently claiming housing benefit, two charges of creating false documents, two offences of failing to disclose he was living as a married, rather than a single, man and one count of falsely claiming he was leaving the UK to live in the United Arab Emirates.

The Crown Prosecution Service will now decide if they want to pursue the money claimed by Olamide. Why wouldn't they?

Source with pictures

Her husband was jailed for defrauding us of £15k. Presumably unemployment beckons for his wife after her light sentence.

24 Nov 2016

Poor legal process in sub-letting case

A council tenant in Kensal Rise has been ordered to pay back almost £10,000 and has placed under a curfew for illegally subletting his flat.

Harry Lambert rented out the one-bedroom property on the open market for three years while he lived at another address in Willesden.

The 38-year-old was caught when his tenants allowed a gas engineer carrying out works on behalf of Brent Housing Partnership into the flat and an investigation was launched.

Last week he admitted dishonestly sub-letting his council property under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 and was sentenced to a 12-week curfew between 12 noon and 12 midnight each weekend.

A very light punishment for an offence carried on over three years.

An unlawful profit order totalling £9,276 was made which he must pay back to the council and also pay the costs of bringing the case to court.

Civil action is now underway to evict him so that the property can be returned back to Brent Council.

So not only a light sentence, a clunky legal process.

Cllr Harbi Farah, Brent Council’s cabinet member for housing, said:

“Brent Council is absolutely committed to tackling housing fraud. With council properties in such high demand, it is completely unacceptable that some individuals are trying to break the law for personal gain. This successful prosecution of a council tenant who illegally sublet his home to private tenants - shows how seriously we take these offences.”


29 Jun 2016

Former council worker jailed for social housing fraud

A former housing officer at Birmingham City Council has been sentenced to three years in prison for committing fraud against her employer.

An internal audit investigation by the council back in 2014 had found Ms Danyaal had submitted six fraudulent homeless applications using fabricated identities and personal information. She was later dismissed from her job role.

Zara Danyaal was found guilty of fraud and sentenced to 30 months for one count of social housing fraud and six months for two offences relating to job references.

Cllr Peter Griffiths, the council’s cabinet member for housing and homes, said:
Danyaal committed an act of fraud and in so doing also prevented several families from being housed. Birmingham City Council has been proactive from the start in pursuing and bringing the perpetrators of this fraud to justice.

Furthermore, all the properties obtained by the deception have now been recovered so that they can be let to citizens who are in genuine need of social housing.
Her sister, Samara Malik, was also jailed for ten months relating to a offence of social housing fraud.


26 Oct 2015

Benefit thief told to repay £200,000

A woman must pay back over £200,000 following an investigation by Thurrock Council’s counter fraud team into benefit fraud.

Of that, over £46,000 must go to the council to repay benefits fraudulently received and over £43,000 to be used by the council to fight and investigate similar cases.

Eniah Nhika, 43, of Belmont Road, Grays, a Zimbabwean national, first applied for housing and council tax benefit from Thurrock Council in December 2013.

Following an investigation, she was arrested at home and a number of items were seized that later became evidence in the case. Council financial investigators obtained an order from the Crown Court restraining her assets in December 2013.

The court heard how, during the investigation, officers uncovered evidence of benefit fraud dating back to 1999 when Nhika first claimed benefits from Hackney Council.

Officers also identified benefit fraud offences, identity document offences, and a fraudulent right to buy purchase of a Hackney Council flat leading to a Magistrates’ Court summons in May 2014.

She admitted nine out of ten offences at Basildon Magistrates Court and the matter was committed to Basildon Crown Court for sentencing where she received a suspended sentence and was ordered to complete unpaid community work.

The council’s confiscation investigation discovered Nhika was receiving money from rental income in breach of the restraint order, leading further summonses and in July this year she was convicted of contempt of court and received a further four months suspended sentence.

A determined fraudster who doesn't care. But the system seems determined not to give her proper punishment.

Following the detailed confiscation investigation, on October 14 at Basildon Crown Court the following confiscation order was made: benefit from criminal conduct £371,173.72; available amount: £216,153; confiscation order £216,153.

Of that figure £32,061.17 goes to HMRC; £22,160.84 to the DWP; and £46,593 to Thurrock Council. Judge Jonathan Lodge allowed the maximum three months to pay and if it is not paid, Nhika faces a further 30-month prison sentence in addition to the sentence already handed down for the fraud offences.

HHJ Lodge expressed his thanks to Thurrock Council’s for the quality and professionalism of its investigation and its presentation of the facts.

The remaining money goes into the Home Office Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme and Thurrock Council will receive a further 18.75% of it as the investigating agency, and 18.75% as the Proceeds of Crime Act agency – funds which, by law, has to be used to “fight crime”.


25 Apr 2015

Woman faces eviction after housing benefit fraud

A 43-year-old woman from Fetcham is facing eviction after admitting that she gave false information to obtain social housing.

Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) successfully prosecuted Shamrock Close resident Tara Woodford for housing allocation and benefit fraud.

Redhill Magistrates' Court heard Woodford had obtained a property that she was not entitled to, which could have been allocated to someone in genuine need.

The fraud referral was first raised by her housing provider, Circle Housing Mole Valley.

Investigators established that Woodford's son, who had been declared as her responsibility on her original application, had in fact moved in with his father at the time of the allocation of the property. He lived and attended school in another part of the country.

When interviewed by investigators, Woodford admitted that false information had been provided when applying for housing, and also when making a claim for benefit to help with rental payments.

She was given a conditional discharge for two years and ordered to pay £100 towards court costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Rachel O'Reilly, the council's head of services, said MVDC and Circle Housing work closely together to identify and investigate allegations of tenancy fraud, with suspected cases being investigated by the council's fraud investigation team:
Social Housing is a scarce resource and residents can wait many months, or even years, before appropriate properties become available.

The Housing Register is administered by MVDC, and properties are allocated based on the genuine needs of the applicant. MVDC is committed to ensuring these applications are robustly checked and investigated and that legal action is taken where fraud is proven.

Anyone convicted of this type of offence will not qualify for social housing for a considerable period of time.
Woodford is now facing separate legal action from Circle Housing Mole Valley with a view to evicting her from the property.

Glynis Gatenby, managing director at Circle Housing Mole Valley, said: "We will always take action against residents found to be committing tenancy fraud as this allows us to return homes to people with a genuine housing need. If you suspect someone of committing fraud in Mole Valley, call the MVDC fraud hotline on 01306 879284. All calls are treated anonymously."


So now we have to wait for another court hearing so that she can be evicted from the social housing she shouldn't have had in the first place. Complacency rules - this process needs to be streamlined.