'Fracking' fraudster jailed
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Legal
courtroomImage: Courtroom via Shutterstock
A benefit cheat who illegally claimed more than £28,000 while studying for an NVQ in fracking in Nigeria has been jailed.
An investigation by Haringey Council discovered that Olutope Abegunde claimed housing and council tax benefit and income support for his home in Tottenham, despite spending two years in the Nigerian city Lagos working towards a qualification in the controversial gas extraction technique.
Council investigators and the Department for Work and Pensions even found that Abegunde had set up his own car business in east London and frequently travelled to the USA.
The 34-year-old claimed his son had moved in with him and was receiving child benefit as the sole carer of the boy – making him eligible for the other benefits.
But evidence showed he had never even visited the property where he said he was looking after his son, and the child benefit was paid into someone else’s account.
At Tottenham Magistrates’ Court last week), the crook was sentenced to 14 weeks in prison after earlier pleading guilty to two charges of dishonestly making a false declaration to Haringey Council and the Department for Work and Pensions.
He also faces repaying the illegally-claimed cash, which was stolen between May 2010 and March 2013.
Councillor Joe Goldberg, cabinet member for finance, said: "The vast majority of families who claim benefits do so lawfully, and this makes us even more determined to clamp down on those who cheat the system for personal gain.
"Fraudsters who flout the rules will face the full force of the law and – as this case shows – time behind bars."