A former Southwark Council officer has been convicted of helping fraudsters find council homes on fake homelessness claims.
Trudy Ali-Balogun, a homeless-caseworker, handled 24 bogus cases between 2003 and 2005.
She appeared at Inner London Crown Court on April 1 with four of her clients: Biayo Awotiwon of Devon Mansions in Tooley Street, Adeyemi Olalekan Oyedele of Webb Street in Bermondsey, Kudiartu Falana of Inville Road in Walworth, and Joseph Akin Olaiya of Gillingham, Kent.
Among the dodgy documents she knowingly approved were false birth certificates for children who never existed, as well as made-up wage slips and bank statements, and fake foreign passports.
Ali-Balogun abused her position with the council by using her knowledge of housing legislation to make the fraudsters “homeless”.
It was later discovered that the applicants she was responsible for processing did not have the immigration-status required to claim the cash and accommodation they had swindled.
The 55-year-old, who studied criminology at university, was found guilty by a jury on Friday April 1 in Inner London Crown Court.
It took only 17 hours for the jury to reach their guilty verdict. Ali-Balogun, of Keogh Road in Newham, is now due to be sentenced for the charge of misconduct in a public office and neglecting to perform her duty. Awotiwon will be sentenced for the charge of making false statements to the officer. Oyedele was found guilty of three counts of using a false document, and of obtaining property by deception. Falana will also be sentenced for obtaining property by deception, and on five counts of making false statements to an officer. Olaiya’s crimes were: using a false document accepted to be genuine, eight counts of using false documents, and one count of attempted deception.
They were all caught under the council’s Operation Bronze, an investigation based on data received from the Met Police’s Operation Amberhill and Cabinet Office’s National Fraud Initiative.
Councillor Fiona Colley, Southwark Council’s cabinet member for finance, modernisation and performance, said: “What these people have done is effectively stealing council housing from those who need it.
“I am delighted that these fraudsters will be punished, sending a strong message to any other would-be criminals out there. We will now put our energies into getting back the homes our residents so dearly need, and the taxpayers’ money which was stolen from the public purse.”
Source: Southwark News