More jailed for Southwark council housing fraud after Operation Bronze investigation

News Desk (28 September, 2016)

The latest prosecutions follow five in April including Ali-Balogun, the former council officer

8902Previously convicted: Trudy Ali-Balogun

Three more people have been sentenced for links to a corrupt Southwark Council officer, who helped fraudsters find council homes on fake homelessness claims.

As part of Southwark’s Operation Bronze, one of council’s largest fraud investigations, the trio were prosecuted at Woolwich Crown Court for their links to Trudy Ali-Balogun (pictured)  – a homeless-caseworker who handled 24 bogus cases between 2003 and 2005.

Theresa Okondunjokanma, Florence Allen and Raphael Djeugam all received council homes obtained using fraudulent documentation processed by Ali-Balogun, and were found guilty of “obtaining services by deception” under the Theft Act 1978.

The latest prosecutions follow five in April including Ali-Balogun, as Biayo Awotiwon of Devon Mansions in Tooley Street, Adeyemi Olalekan Oyedele of Webb Street in Bermondsey, Kudiartu Falana of Inville Road in Walworth, and Joseph Akin Olaiya of Gillingham, Kent were all found guilty in April.

Okondunjokanma was sentenced to eighteen months’ imprisonment, as a first for the council, as she was also sentenced for illegally subletting a secured tenancy (Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013).

The new law was introduced by the government to give local authorities greater powers to tackle housing fraud.

The court heard that as part of Okondunjokanma’s homeless application, she had provided three false child birth certificates, false bank statements, a false child benefit letter and a false indefinite leave to remain vignette in her Nigerian passport.

As a result, Okondunjokanma was offered a property in Peckham, which was then illegally sublet to her sister and her family.

She was then moved to another Southwark tenancy in Camberwell. The property has since been returned to the council.

Florence Allen and Raphael Djeugam were ordered to service fifteen months and two years respectively in prison for their crimes.

Allen was offered a tenancy in Bermondsey after producing a false child birth certificate, false bank statements, false Nigerian passports with indefinite leave to remain vignettes, false national insurance numbers and false utility bills, to support her homeless application. The property will now be recovered by the council.

Djeugam was offered and accepted a tenancy in Peckham using fraudulent documentation. The property will also be recovered by the council.

Councillor Fiona Colley, Cabinet Member for Finance, Strategy and Performance, said: “Housing fraud costs tax payers millions of pounds and deprives those in real need of a council property. Operation Bronze was set up to combat this and ensure that anyone found profiting from council resources was brought to justice.

“Today I am pleased to say that we have accomplished much of what we set out to do. The operation has resulted in 38 convictions and has recovered 42 properties which can be reallocated to genuine applicants.

“Crucially, we’ve now developed a culture of accountability and greater scrutiny of council resources with improved measures for preventing and identifying fraud.”

Contribute
Daniel Smith says:

What’s a vignette?

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