Residents from Barking and Dagenham, Hackney and Newham accused of roles in £1m housing benefit fraud
PUBLISHED: 08:47 23 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:36 23 August 2017
A group of housing benefit assessors have appeared in court accused of running a £1 million fraud scheme over ten years.
The gang allegedly used false identities and authorised monthly housing benefit payments to be paid into associates’ bank accounts between 2006 and 2016, with individuals from Barking and Dagenham, Hackney and Newham allegedly involved.
Barking and Dagenham Council officer Rehel Asfaha, 35, and fellow housing benefit assessor Alexander Williams, 38, of Lambeth, supplied identity documents to fake claimants to help secure the money, it is claimed.
Ms Asfaha, of Otley Road, West Beckton, is said to conned the local authority out of £182,907.69 and pocketed £82,331.57 in benefits from previous employer Lambeth Council, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday.
She is charged with two counts of fraud by abuse of position, two counts of possession of controlled identity documents with intent and two counts of money laundering.
Mr Williams is charged with fraud by abuse of position, possession of controlled identity documents with intent and controlling criminal property.
Five of the gang’s associates have been charged with money laundering and also appeared at court.
They are Kyeshia Strachan, 27, of Primrose Square, Hackney, Samuel Hammond, 39, of Lockwell Road, Dagenham, Mgeini Khanye, 35, of Hoskins Close, Canning Town, Donna Francis, 56, of Lambeth, and Derek Williams, 57, of Lambeth.
Prosecutor Carly Loftus said the alleged fraud involved “significant planning and abuse of a position of trust”.
Meanwhile, four other officers at Lambeth Council are accused of organising a similar scam against their local authority worth £631,479.40.
They are Jessica Bartley, 33, of Clapham, Menlik Cowan, 36, of Edmonton, Natasha Francis, 37, of Southwark and Cassandra Johnson, 36, of Brixton
All are charged with fraud by abuse of position, possession of controlled identity documents with intent.
Ms Bartley, Ms Cowan and Ms Johnson are also charged with controlling criminal property.
Hugh Small, 62, of Fulham, is accused of defrauding Kingston Council while a housing benefit assessor and faces charges of fraud by abuse of position, possession of controlled identity documents with intent and controlling criminal property
All 12 defendants have been granted unconditional bail until appearing at Southwark Crown Court on September 19.