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Stepney Green fraudster pretended to be dead man's nephew in bid to get his council flat

PUBLISHED: 17:00 13 August 2019

Snaresbrook Crown Court.

Snaresbrook Crown Court.

Archant

A fraudster who pretended to be the nephew of a dead man in a bid to take over his council home has been given a two year suspended prison sentence.

Shafiqur Rahman, of Bale Road, Stepney Green, applied to take over the tenancy in June 2016 claiming he had been living with the Tower Hamlets Homes tenant at the one bedroom flat in Headlam Street, Whitechapel.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said: "Housing fraud is a selfish act and results in much needed homes being denied to those in genuine need.

"We will always seek to take strong action against those acting illegally."

Rahman submitted an extensive list of documents to prove he lived at the flat including utilities bills, a council tax bill, bank statements, a car insurance certificate, a HM Customs & Revenue letter, birth certificates, an accountant's letter, housing benefit applications and council tax rebate.

But the soundness of some documents raised suspicions and triggered an investigation by Tower Hamlets Council's specialist housing fraud team.

Officers gathered evidence from utility, insurance and accountancy firms along with the council's own records to confirm a number of documents were fake.

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One of the deceased tenant's care workers stated he hadn't seen any family members at the home apart from a relative who visited twice a year.

The tenant also told him most of his family lived in Scotland.

A friend, who supported the man after his wife died, confirmed he lived alone and had been cared for by social services.

He knew nothing of Rahman and confirmed his friend had never mentioned him.

The 43-year-old pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud at Snaresbrook Crown Court on July 4.

He was sentenced at the same court on Thursday, August 1. He received 150 hours of unpaid work, a four month curfew and will have to pay the council's £6,000 legal costs.

Cllr Sirajul Islam, deputy mayor and cabinet member for housing, said: "Many congratulations to all those who worked on what I know was a lengthy and complex investigation.

"With more than 20,000 people on our housing list, any property which is recovered is crucial."

To report suspected housing fraud office call 0800 528 0294 or email socialhousingfraud@towerhamlets.gov.uk

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