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Finance and money

Convictions send warning to benefits cheats

BENEFITS cheats who stole thousands of pounds from taxpayers have been brought to justice following a series of convictions brought by Lambeth Council.

In one case, a woman illegally claimed more than £24,000 in housing benefit, more than £5,000 in council tax benefit and £12,000 in job seekers’ allowance by using a false identity.

Olubimpe Salami, of Groveway, Stockwell, had a job at Selfridges but gave a different name – Adeola Kemy Oragbade – to her employer in order to claim benefits at the same time in the hope that she would not be found out.

But Lambeth Council fraud investigators uncovered the scam after becoming suspicious following a routine check of her details. They used handwriting analysis of forms she had submitted in both names to confirm that Olumbimpe Salami and Adeloa Kemy Oragbade were in fact the same person.

The investigators also discovered that as well as having a job, she had claimed benefits and job seekers’ Allowance that she was not entitled to while she was a student at London Metropolitan University between 2003 and 2007. While at university she had successfully applied for thousands of pounds of student loans and grants.

Ms Salami pleaded guilty to six charges of making false representations and failing to declare her change of circumstances in order to obtain housing benefit and Jobseekers’ Allowance. She was sentenced at Inner London Crown Court on 21st February to nine months imprisonment suspended for two years. She will also have to carry out 180 community service, have a criminal record, and will have to pay back the £41,000 she illegally claimed.  

In another case, a man claimed more almost £9,000 in housing and council tax benefit he wasn’t entitled to by failing to declare he worked full time at Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital. Ezekiel Oladejo, of Riggindale Road, Streatham, claimed on his application form that he had earned £3,200 in the previous five months as a self employed salesman, but a check by fraud investigators uncovered that his true income was higher than he had declared, through his job as a sterile services assistant.

He pleaded guilty to an offence under s. 112 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 and was sentenced at Inner London Crown Court on February 21st to 75 hours of community service and will have to pay back the money he wrongly claimed.

Cllr Paul McGlone, Lambeth Council Cabinet for Finance, said: “People who rip off the public purse deprive those in genuine need of support and are picking the pocket of law abiding tax payers, but they should be aware it’s not a case of if they will be caught, but when.

“These cases prove that people determined to commit benefit fraud will go to considerable lengths to try to conceal their crimes, but our fraud investigators work closely alongside a range of other government and private organisations, and no matter how clever people think they are being, we will be one step ahead.”

Also last week, Jeremy Osei-Asamoah, of Durrington Tower, Wandsworth Road, was sentenced to 250 hours community service after being found guilty of claiming almost £7,000 in benefits by submitting fake letters about his employment status and earnings.

If you have any information about someone you suspect of committing benefit fraud call our confidential fraud hotline on 020 7926 1111 or report it online at www.lambeth.gov.uk/benefitfraud

 

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