Ms Paula Callaway of Dunmow Essex has been given a 12 month suspend sentence and 150 hours community service after being found guilty of 2 counts of Social Housing fraud.
Subletting council property
Paula Callaway became a tenant of Moat Housing housing association in 1999. The tenancy agreement required Ms Callaway to live at the property 49 Ravenoak Way Chigwell as her main home and not to sublet it without prior written permission.
In November 2011 Paula Callaway sought permission to carry out a mutual exchange with the tenant of a one bedroom flat Council property at 9 Felstead Road Loughton.
Reasons given for requesting the exchange was that Ms Callaway wished to downsize following her children leaving home. The mutual exchange was approved and took place in January 2012.
Confidential fraud hotline
Following a report to the Council’s confidential fraud hotline officers launched an investigation which revealed that Paula Callaway had purchased a three bedroom new build property and had been living in Dunmow since October 2009, whilst still claiming to be a tenant at Ravenoak Way, Chigwell.
Ms Callaway had not informed Moat Housing that she had moved out and had left her son at that property and also rented out to property to at least another five people.
The mutual exchange was therefore fraudulent and the reasons given false.
Further fraudulent activity
At trial it transpired that the tenant Ms Callaway carried out the mutual exchange with was her sister in law and the real reason for wanting to exchange was that her sister in law wanted to move to a three bedroom property.
Having then gained the tenancy of the one bedroom flat 9 Felstead Road, Callaway then illegally sublet it again. She moved in two individuals from Ravenoak Way into 9 Felstead Road, whilst still living in her own property in Great Dunmow, acting as the landlord for the 2 council owned properties.
Depriving families of a home
After a five day trial at Chelmsford Crown Court Ms. Callaway was found guilty of 2 offences relating to Social Housing fraud. Having previously pleaded guilty to the criminal offence of dishonestly subletting a property, she was sentenced with a 12 month suspended sentence on both counts of fraud, 150 hours community service and a victim surcharge.
The Judge stated: “You were given social housing once you had bought a home of your own. There is chronic shortage of social homes and you deprived a family from living in a home for six years. This went on far too long. It went on but you must know what you did was wrong.”
Fraudsters cheat us all
Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Gagan Mohindra said: “Fraud affects everyone. Money stolen by housing tenancy fraud, council tax fraud or business rates fraud is depriving our public services of the vital resources they need.”
“Please tell us if you suspect someone is committing fraud by filling in our online form or by calling our fraud investigation team”
You can report anonymously and don’t have to give your name or contact details unless you want to.