Council housing fraudsters avoid jail despite £64k cons

Two housing fraudsters have narrowly avoided jail after lying in their council housing applications.

Wolverhampton Crown Court
Wolverhampton Crown Court

Annet Nemah Umuzia Cox failed to disclose her status as a homeowner when applying for council housing in Dudley – and pleaded guilty to an offence under section two and section three of the Fraud Act 2006. In December, she was sentenced to six months custody, suspended for 12 months.

She had provided the false housing application to gain access to a Dudley Council property, which the council made specific adaptations to, amounting to £29,439.

The council also paid the rent of £2,078 and council tax at £399 at the property while it was being adapted. When Cox moved into the property, her owned property was then rented out privately – bringing in £5,240.

The total of the fraud was added up to around £37,157. She would not have been eligible for a Dudley Council tenancy, had she declared her correct circumstances.

While in a separate case, reported by the Express & Star, Gambian national Yama Jarju joined the council housing waiting list in 2007 by submitting a fraudulent French passport – which would have given her the right of free movement as an EU national and eligibility to social housing.

The 36-year-old was provided with a property in Netherton, with a reduced rent subsidised by Dudley Council in May 2009. She lived there with her two children and mother, who died in 2012, but a tip-off that the passport was fake triggered a council probe, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.

Dudley Council believes she saved almost £27,000 by not having to pay the full rent of private accommodation. Earlier this month, Jarju was given a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.

Council bosses are now urging people to be truthful when applying for council housing

Councillor Keiran Casey, cabinet member for housing and residents welfare, said: "We take these issues extremely seriously and are once again showing that we will not tolerate fraud in anyway, ensuring that those who are engaged in such activities are caught and face the full force of the law.

"Our priority is rightly focused upon those who are most deserving and in need of council housing.”

Dudley Council is currently pursuing Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 proceedings against Cox to establish her benefit from criminal action and the amount she can pay. Cox is no longer a council tenant and Jarju is facing eviction.

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