A team dedicated to putting a stop to housing fraud in Dudley borough has investigated nearly 500 cases in the last 12 months.
People who commit housing fraud deprive others who are in need genuine need of housing and cost the UK an estimated £1.76 billion every year.
In the last financial year (April 2018 to March 2019), Dudley Council’s housing fraud team investigated 470 cases of housing fraud across Dudley borough.
As a result, the team was able to prevent 27 fraudulent applications from registering on Dudley Council’s waiting list for rehousing. This led to the recovered possession of 16 properties which had been obtained or were being used fraudulently, achieving a notional saving of £375,480.
The 16 recovered properties were made available to those residents who were eligible and in genuine need of housing.
Dudley residents are urged to help identify potential offenders in Dudley borough who they suspect may have applied for social housing by giving false information; subletting a social housing property without permission or fraudulently attempting to purchase a property through the right to buy scheme.
Alan Lunt, deputy chief executive at Dudley Council, said:
As it’s currently International Fraud Awareness Week, we want to highlight the issues around housing fraud in Dudley borough and encourage residents to be our eyes and ears and report anything which seems suspicious.
It’s a serious offence and fraudsters could face a criminal record, lose their tenancy and be made to repay any unlawful profits gained as a result.
At the end of last year, a council tenant, Annet Nemah Umzia Cox, was prosecuted following an investigation which identified they had provided false information on their housing application.
The tenant received a conviction, was sentenced to six months in custody, suspended for 12 months, and given a confiscation order for £39,883.30.
In January 2019, a council tenant, Yama Jarju, was prosecuted following an investigation which identified that she had used a fraudulent document to obtain a council tenancy. She was prosecuted on two accounts of fraud and received a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months for each offence.
If anyone suspects fraud is taking place, they can report it to housing services by visiting Dudley Council Plus or calling 0300 555 2345. Alternatively, they can use the council's fraud hotline message service on 01384 814242 or by email at email@example.com.
People don’t have to give their name or address when reporting suspected fraud and can be assured their contact details provided will be held safely and treated in strict confidence.