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Homeowner with no mortgage claims £63k in Housing Benefit

A woman who pretended to be living in a property and paying rent to the landlord in order to claim Housing Benefit turned out not only to own the property, but to not even have a mortgage to service!

The fraudster was brought to Snaresbrook Crown Court on 24 January after Waltham Forest Council uncovered the true picture of her financial predicament. Angelique Ioannou, 54, of Brindwood Road in Chingford pleaded guilty to dishonestly providing information to the Council in order to claim Housing Benefit to which she was not entitled.

Over the course of a decade between 26 November 2001 and 21 March 2011 Ms Ioannou pocketed £63,629 in housing benefit. In sentencing her, the Judge acknowledged that she had repaid £49,134 soon after her crime was detected and that this action had saved her from going to prison.

She was however sentenced to ten months imprisonment, suspended for two years, on each of two counts, to be served concurrently. The Judge also made a compensation order in the sum of £14,495, plus costs of £3,000 which she has to pay at a rate of £150 per month, or face an additional default sentence of six months in prison.

Councillor Mark Rusling, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Corporate Resources, said, “It’s extraordinary that someone in such a privileged financial position should commit such a crime.

“She is very fortunate to avoid prison, but at least we have managed to recover the lion’s share of this gross overpayment already. That said, it obviously doesn’t absolve her of responsibility from stealing from the public purse.

“I find it a particularly ugly crime at a time when people in genuine need are coping with cuts to benefits that will really hurt them. It’s a vindication of the work our Counter Fraud Team carries out to track down benefit cheats.”

If you suspect someone is committing any kind of fraud against the Council or the public sector, contact the Council’s Counter Fraud Group on 020 8496 4299 or write to them at PO BOX 193, London Borough of Waltham Forest, Town Hall, Forest Road, London, E17 4JA. All information will be treated as confidential.

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