Partnership working by Surrey Heath Borough Council (SHBC) and Accent Housing has resulted in a man being convicted of social housing fraud and sentenced to more than two years imprisonment.
On July 26 2019 at Guildford Crown Court, Joseph Essiful of Paschal Road, Camberley, was sentenced to two years and six months on three offences under the Fraud Act 2006, to be served concurrently.
This followed Mr Essiful being found guilty of the charges on June 21 2019. Mr Essiful, a local authority social worker, committed the fraud over a nine-year period.
In October 2016, SHBC received information alleging Mr Essiful was not living at the social housing property he rented from Accent Housing, and was illegally subletting to his son.
This would mean Mr Essiful was breaching the terms of his tenancy agreement by failing to occupy the social housing property as his only or principal home.
An extensive investigation undertaken by officers from SHBC and Accent Housing uncovered financial and personal links to addresses and employment in the Essex area.
A further 35 witness statements were taken, and detailed analysis of more than 8,500 financial transactions analysis carried out, to gather further evidence.
During the trial, the prosecution also presented evidence of a property in Essex owned by Essiful with his estranged wife.
Following the sentencing, Julia Greenfield, SHBC Corporate Enforcement Manager said: “This was a very complex and resource-intensive case to investigate.
“I am delighted with the unanimous verdict of the jury and the sentence imposed by the judge.
“With social housing accommodation being at such a premium and with many families on the waiting list, it is imperative we work together to prevent abuse of the system and ensure only those who have a legitimate entitlement are housed by the authorities.”
Rob Mills, Accent Housing’s Director of Customer Experience (South) said: “After so much hard work from Accent Housing and Surrey Heath Borough Council staff, I am really pleased with the successful outcome of this case.
“It took time to build up the evidence needed, but the joint working between the various teams, as well as the support of local residents, was invaluable.
“This long-term tenancy fraud deprived a local family of much-needed accommodation in the borough.
“As always, we remain committed to ensuring scarce social housing is given to those people in housing need, and we will ensure tenancy fraud is tackled head on.”
Anyone with information about possible social housing fraud should report it at https://www.surreyheath.gov.uk/report-it