Town hall benefit staff ‘used fake IDs to claim £1million’
A GROUP of housing benefit assessors fraudulently claimed a total of more than £1million in welfare payments using false names, a court heard.
The council workers then put the money into bank accounts set up with fake passports over a ten-year period, it was alleged.
They worked for councils in three London boroughs – Kingston, Lambeth, and Barking and Dagenham.
Rehel Asfaha, 35, Jessica Bartley, 33, Menelik Cowan, 36, Natasha Francis, 37, Cassandra Johnson, 36, Hugh Junior Small, 38 and Alexandra Williams, 38, all appeared at Westminster magistrates’ court yesterday. The defendants, who are all from London, are charged with a range of offences including fraud while working at different councils from 2006 to 2016, money laundering and possession of fake identity documents.
Prosecutor Carley Loftus said: ‘The housing benefit taken in this case ... exceeds £1million.’
Asfaha is charged with pocketing £82,331 at Lambeth council and £ 182,907 at Barking & Dagenham council.
Cowan is accused of stealing £298,469. Johnson is said to have pocketed £179,078. Both worked for Lambeth council. Williams is accused of taking £240,345 from Barking and Dagenham Council.
The defendants were bailed and will appear at Southwark crown court on September 19.
‘The money taken exceeds £1million’