Oluwatoyin Ogunlana, of Rosewood Close, South Ockenden, Essex will also have to perform 100 hours of unpaid work after being found guilty of three offences at Snaresbrook Crown Court on July 21 2022.
The two year custodial sentence, which will be suspended for two years, followed a successful investigation by Newham Council’s specialist housing fraud team.
The Court heard that Ogunlana maintained the fraud for over 10 years, after presenting as homeless to Newham Council in 2000, when she was placed in temporary accommodation.
In 2008 she was offered and signed a tenancy for a council property in Plaistow Road, Stratford, but failed to declare she was now a home owner, with properties in Walthamstow and Kent. During this period she also fraudulently received housing and council tax benefit.
While living in the Stratford flat Ogunlana completed a degree in Housing Studies and worked as a housing officer for social housing landlords.
The fraud was uncovered when she attempted to purchase the Plaistow Road property through the right to buy scheme and checks revealed she was a mortgage holder.
Sentencing, Judge Recorder Patrick Roche told Ogunlana she had lied repeatedly and by occupying the council property had knowingly deprived someone in genuine housing need of a secure home. However due to her previous good character, and the negative impact that prison would have on her family, he ordered the two year sentence to be suspended for two years.
Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings are now in place to recover the amount the Council lost through having to house an additional family in temporary accommodation and any profits Ms Ogunlana made as a result of her crime.
Councillor Zulfiqar Ali, Newham Cabinet member for Finance and Resources said:
“That Ms Ogunlana deprived the council of much-needed social housing is shocking in itself, but the fact she is person who has worked as a housing officer is truly appalling. She must be acutely aware of the heartache that homelessness brings to people and families in Newham, and yet decided to profit from that misery.
“We’re pleased that the court has made a custodial sentence and will recover the income she illegally derived from this fraud.
“The case sends a very clear message that whoever you are, you cannot expect to get away with fraud and depriving a deserving family of a safe and secure home.
“Our housing fraud team have the resources and years of professional expertise to pursue those who defraud the Council and cheat those in genuine housing need.
“Be in no doubt when our team catch cheats, through their detailed and thorough investigations, they will pursue them to court where they could face jail. The homes we recover are returned to the housing stock to help those in need.
“I would encourage anyone who suspects housing fraud to think about those homeless families denied a home and to come forward in confidence.”
Anyone who has information that a council property may be fraudulently held or illegally sublet can report an allegation by contacting the Fraud Team by Telephone on 0800 052 2420 or by email at Fraud@newham.gov.uk
Your identity will always remain anonymous and not be disclosed as part of the investigation.