Former council housing officer jailed for part in rent deposit fraud plot
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing
Care home patient was fleeced by relative
A former council housing officer was one of two people jailed yesterday for his part in a plot to defraud a rent deposit scheme.
Adnan Nazir, 34, was handed a two and half year sentence at Wood Green Crown Court after an investigation by his former employer, Barnet Council.
Jamile Pertussati, Nazir's partner in the plot, was jailed for 15 months.
The court heard how the pair's scam involved using a complex web of false identities to open a string of bank accounts which were then activated to receive thousands of pounds in fraudulent rent deposit scheme payments.
The council's rent deposit scheme is used to provide people in need of housing with initial financial support to help secure a tenancy for private rented accommodation.
An investigation was launched by the council's Anti-Fraud Team (CAFT) last June after irregularities with a number of rent deposit payments were uncovered.
CAFT identified 41 fraudulent payments worth £132,629 which had been paid to different bank accounts.
The team managed to intercept and block a further 12 fraudulent payments during the course of the investigation, which were worth more than £31,600.
The court learned that Nazir, of St Albans Road, Watford, used his in depth knowledge of how the rent deposit scheme worked to mastermind and carry out the fraud.
The crook, who worked for the council for two and a half years, carried out six of the 41 illicit payments whilst still in his role as a housing officer. He and his accomplish both pleaded guilty at the trial.
Pertussati, 33, of Poynders Rd, Clapham, played her part by setting up a number of the fraudulent bank accounts and withdrawing the payments in cash. On a number of occasions cash deposits were made into Nazir’s bank account on the same day, and using banks in the same area as those used to withdraw the money.
After the fraud was discovered, CAFT worked closely with the service to ensure procedures for making the payments were changed and enhanced to prevent the scheme being targeted in the same way again.
Sentencing the pair, Judge Simon Carr, said: "Each of you has pleaded guilty to your involvement in a detailed and far reaching fraud.
"Mr Nazir was employed by the London Borough of Barnet, and as part of that work became involved with what is known as the rent deposits scheme.
"This is a scheme which uses much needed resources at a time of obvious financial problems to assist some of the most vulnerable in society.
"When you left their employment you in effect sold the information as to how this fraud could be committed to Mr and Mrs Pertussati who were friends of yours.
"It was in the latter conspiracy which Mrs Pertsassti became involved."
Councillor Richard Cornelius, Council Leader, said: "This was a calculated and highly organised attack on a scheme set up to help people in real financial need, involving a former staff member who abused his position for personal gain.
"I hope the sentences handed down by the court send a very clear message to anyone who might be contemplating a similar criminal enterprise that crime does not pay.
"I am confident the additional safeguards now in place mean the likelihood of this kind of fraud occurring again is extremely low.
"The outcome of the case is testament to the hard work carried out by Barnet Council’s Corporate Anti-Fraud Team in exposing fraud, whoever the culprits might be."