Woman jailed for fraudulent housing claim
A woman who used a false passport to fraudulently obtain a social home has been jailed for eight months.
Mary Christine Obanokho pleaded guilty on 18 April to offences under the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981 following a prosecution by Lewisham Council.
Ms Obanokho arrived in the UK from Nigeria in 1996 on a six month visa but did not return home when the visa expired. Instead, she purchased a British passport, which had a fake date of birth, for £500 and used it to apply for social housing. She was housed in temporary accommodation by housing association Phoenix Community Housing.
The fraud was detected when she contacted PCH to say the information they held on her was incorrect and she needed to change the name and date of birth on her tenancy agreement.
Lewisham Council and Phoenix launched a joint investigation and she was sentenced to eight months in prison at Woolwich Magistrates Court.
Judge Alan Saggerson said that Ms Obanokho had jumped the housing queue and obtained a benefit to which she was not entitled to.
Susan Wise, cabinet member for customer services at Lewisham Council, said: ‘Social housing is vital for those people who are in housing need.
‘Ms Obanokho used deceit to obtain a home that she was not entitled to, and, effectively, deprived someone else who was legally entitled to a council home from having one. We will not tolerate housing cheats in Lewisham and will seek to prosecute those who do try to cheat the system.’