Benefits cheat council worker claimed £200,000 despite having £500,000 property portfolio
Posted Feb 14, 2012 1:44 PM
Benefits cheat council worker claimed £200,000 despite having £500,000 property portfolio and three jobs
By EDDIE WRENN
Last updated at 6:34 PM on 13th February 2012
Cheat: Gladys Popoola falsely claimed more then £200,000 in benefits
A council worker today admitted to claiming more than £200,000 in benefits despite having three jobs and a property portfolio worth more than £500,000.
Gladys Popoola's six-year web of deception, which involved using a false identity and claiming to be unmarried and out-of-work, only came to an end today when she admitted to 16 counts relating to fraud.
Popoola, who has a 17-month-old baby, was warned she can expect a custodial sentence when she returns to Southwark Crown Court for sentencing on March 16.
The 47-year-old owned three homes in London and property in Kenya. She was receiving rental income from these homes as well as working for three companies.
However Popoola fraudulently claimed benefits by failing to declare that she was living with her husband, who was working, instead claiming she was unmarried in applications for income support, housing benefit, council tax benefit and special grant.
She also admitted today to lying in order to get legal aid in civil proceedings against her.
Popoola's jobs included two with housing groups and employment with Hammersmith and Fulham Council, which she obtained using a false national insurance number and the fake name Gladys Gitonga.
She confessed today to 13 counts of making false representation for benefit purposes, one of obtaining property by deception, a national insurance number in April 2004, one of fraud by false representation and one of possessing an article, namely a false national insurance number, for use in fraud
Judge Alistair McCreath warned her to expect a custodial sentence, and said: 'The starting point is four years.
'This is a benefit fraud involving over £200,000 of public money in which a custodial outcome is inevitable.'
David Jugnarian, prosecuting, said: 'The value of the fraud in this case is just in excess of £200,000, it involves a variety of benefits and an application for legal aid in civil proceedings.'
On August 2 2004 Popoola made her first fake benefit claim when applying for income support by failing to declare she was living with her husband, John Ndirangu, who was employed.
She also neglected to mention that she had a job at Eden Brown using the name Gladys Gitonga and had savings in excess of the limit.
She failed to disclose to authorities that she owned properties at Galsworthy Road, Cricklewood and Earlham Grove, Forest Gate, as well as properties in Kenya, and that she was receiving cash from the rent.
Between September 2004 and April 2005 she hid her marriage when applying for tax credit and in October 2004 and in March 2005 she hid all the details of her private life from the authorities when applying for council tax and housing benefit.
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In September 2007 she hid her wealth when applying for a social fund grant and by this time she had added another property at Narford Road, Clapton, to her portfolio and stopped working at Eden Brown but taken on three new jobs at Irish Centre housing, English Churches Housing Group and with the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.
In October 2007 and January 2008 she failed to disclose all of this information on a claim for job seekers allowance and even tried to get the payment backdated in another claim despite her three jobs.
Her lies continued when, in September 2008, after she had stopped working for Irish Centre Housing, she applied for income support and neglected to reveal her details.
In her application for Jobseeker's Allowance between September and December 2008 she then hid her two jobs at the English Church Housing Group and with the council, she admitted
Gladys Popoola (centre), pictured leaving Southwark Crown Court, will return for sentencing in March
In October 2008 when applying for housing benefit she hid her husband, her savings, her rental income, her three properties in the UK and a number on Kenya and her two jobs where she was working under the surname Gitonga.
In September 2009 she failed to disclose that she was living with her husband, had the properties in Cricklewood, Forest Gate and Clapton, properties in Kenya and a job with Hammersmith and Fulham Council.
It is also alleged in applying for a discretionary housing payment in April 2009 and a maternity allowance in August 2010 she failed to declare the extent of her income.
Brazen Popoola even committed fraud by failing to disclose her personal and financial circumstances in a claim for legal aid in civil proceedings, she admitted today.
Shiraz Aziz, defending, said: 'There have been multiple frauds over a significant period but not all were fraudulent from the outset, I will seek to argue.'
Judge McCreath warned: 'On whatever basis you are sentenced the sentence on you is bound to be imprisonment, I tell you that now.'