A 52 year-old woman from South Lambeth has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to five counts of fraud and admitting she had claimed over £96,000 in Housing Benefit for a property that she owned.
The case, brings to £3.6m the amount Lambeth Council’s Counter Fraud Team have secured through interventions in 2015.
Ibironke Adeyemi of Dovet Court, had also failed to declare that she owned and rented out a second property in Croydon, and was in the process of claiming an extra £40,000 as a backdated payment of benefit when the offence was identified by a Lambeth assessment officer.
The fraud started in 2006, when Adeyemi put in a claim for benefit for help to pay rent she claimed to pay to a private landlord, when she actually owned the property. The investigation found that she had declared one bank account in one name when in fact she held eight further bank accounts in other names and that she owned a second property which she rented out for £1,100 a month. The bank accounts that had not been declared indicated that Adeyemi had been working at times during the period of her claim and she had not disclosed any such employment to the Council
She was sentenced at the Inner London Crown Court following the investigation led by Lambeth Council fraud officers. The council has now begun work to recover the outstanding debt through the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), as well as any gain made in the value of the property she owned in Croydon, which had been paid for in part through her crime.
Cllr Paul McGlone, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Finance said: “Once more, the hard work of the council’s dedicated fraud team has brought a criminal to justice and we will continue to pursue benefit cheats and crooks. I hope this jail sentence sends a very clear warning to those who line their own pockets by stealing from people in genuine need because that’s exactly what benefit frauds do.”
In the past year, Lambeth Council’s Counter Fraud Team have:
• Recovered 93 properties that were subject to tenancy fraud at a value of £1.674m
• Made recommendations for the recovery of 104 properties that were subject to tenancy fraud
• Prevented 8 right to buy discounts valued at over £800,000
• Prosecuted 14 claimants for benefit fraud and secured sanctions against another 10 claimants (even though benefit fraud investigations were transferred to DWP in February 2015)
• Prosecuted 6 tenants for tenancy fraud offences (4 in relation to subletting and 2 for right to buy fraud)
• Identified £662,000 in fraudulent benefit overpayments
• Secured compensation payments in relation to three cases under Proceeds of Crime legislation exceeding £430,000.
• Secured compensation of £75,000 in relation to a tenancy fraud prosecution