Housing cheat caught renting council flat in Whitechapel for years while owning a house
PUBLISHED: 10:00 18 January 2020
A woman who lied to get a council flat in Whitechapel illegally while owning a £340,000 house has been slapped with a suspended jail sentence for fraud.
She only got found out when she applied for "right to buy" the flat 10 years later.
Khaleda Begum was given a 16-month term and ordered to do 40 hours unpaid community work for two frauds going back 14 years when she appeared at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
She was also ordered to pay Tower Hamlets Council £105,000 which had been paid out for homeless families in temporary accommodation who could have been living in the flat on the Collingwood estate.
The judge also made her pick up the £5,800 tab for the council's legal costs.
"This fraud was at the expense of a families who really needed a secure home," mayor John Biggs said after the case. "It's unlikely Begum would have been given a council property had she been honest about owning her own home in the declarations she was obliged to make."
Begum's frauds stretched back to 2006, starting with failing to disclose that she had become the joint owner with her brother of a four-bedroom house in Ilford in February that year.
She bought the house just four months after being given the flat in Collingwood House, off Cambridge Heath Road.
Her second fraud was applying for to buy the flat in Darling Row in March 2016 when she failed to disclose that it was not her only home, which broke the law.
Deputy Mayor Sirajul Islam, cabinet member for housing, warned: "We make regular checks and will prosecute those who break the law.
"Housing fraud is not a 'victimless' crime when we have 20,000 people on our waiting list.
"But we have managed to recover £105,000 through the court for the costs we face having to pay for families in temporary accommodation."
Begum signed a declaration when she went on the waiting list in 2002 accepting responsibility to notify the authority of any change to her circumstances, but failed to do this when she bought the house in Ilford with her brother. It came to light when the town hall's housing fraud team carried out routine financial and security checks when she applied to buy the flat.
Begum pleaded guilty to two frauds when she appeared before Thames magistrates in December and was then sentenced at the crown court on January 10.