A man who forged bank statements in order to scam his way to almost £24,000 in benefits has been prosecuted by Lambeth Council.
Edirin Manovwe, 30, of Poplar Road, Herne Hill, pleaded guilty to thirteen counts of benefit fraud at Camberwell Magistrates’ Court after admitting producing fake bank account statements to help him claim Housing Benefit and Job Seekers’ Allowance that he was not entitled to.
Manovwe had failed to declare that he had started full time studies at London South Bank University and was receiving student loans and grants when he claimed more than £15,000 of housing benefit and £8,916.32 Job Seekers’ Allowance between September 2004 and October 2008.
He produced fake bank statements from accounts that did not exist to claim his income was lower than it actually was.
The council started an investigation after cross checking his claim with the National Fraud Initiative, which allows public and private sector bodies to share electronic data to prevent and detect fraud, which showed he had been awarded student funding.
He pleaded guilty to thirteen counts of benefit fraud at Camberwell Magistrates Court and was sentenced to six week’s imprisonment in respect of each charge, suspended for two years. A 12 month community order was imposed, which requires him to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and to attend 20 sessions of a structured supervision programme. He was also ordered to pay a £500 contribution to costs. The council is making sure he pays back what he owes by deducting the maximum it is allowed, in this case £20.25 a week, from his current housing benefit payments.
Cllr Paul McGlone, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said: “People who claim benefits they are not entitled to are stealing from the public purse and this case sends a clear message to benefits fraudsters that they will be caught. Our anti-fraud team is saving council tax payers hundreds of thousands of pounds each year by relentlessly investigating and pursuing suspect claimants and bringing them to justice.”
Notes: Lambeth Council has a debt and overpayment team that uses all means at its disposal to recover fraudulently claimed payments. Where fraudsters have no assets, local authorities can take the money from any benefits it pays them.