Couple jailed for Right-to-Buy fraud
Published by Julien Tremblin for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Local Government
Prison for couple who bought Right-to-Buy home with fake IDs
A London couple has been sentenced to prison after it was discovered they bought a home under Right-to-Buy (RtB) using fake identities.
Emmanuel Ekwegbalu, 46, has been found guilty of housing fraud following an investigation by Southwark Council.
He was convicted after letting a council property in Peckham he had bought under the RTB scheme. The council says he obtained the property by deception in the form of identity fraud.
The case came to the attention of the council’s tenancy relations service when Mr Ekwegbalu’s tenant claimed that he was being illegally evicted.
Mr Ekwegbalu received a 20-month sentence on 12 December at Blackfriars Crown Court.
His wife Ada Nwachukwu, 41, was sentenced to two years imprisonment on 18 November for the same offence.
The council is now seeking to recover around £45,000 from the couple under the Proceeds of Crime Act relating to the criminal benefits associated with the RtB. In addition, the council has issued civil proceedings to recover outstanding account charges of £14,100 and will aim to recover ownership of the property.
The tenant was helped by the council to move back into the property.
Councillor Ian Wingfield, cabinet member for housing, said: “There are almost 20,000 people in need of housing in Southwark, so to try to obtain a home by deception then profit from it while other, genuine, applicants wait for a home is disgraceful.
"We will come down hard on anyone found to be illegally obtaining housing. Supplying falsified documents to the council, or any government authority, is against the law. We will pursue anyone attempting to defraud the public purse and we will recover associated funds.”
Nationally, the Audit Commission estimates housing fraud to cost taxpayers in excess of £900m a year.
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