Private hire driver convicted of council home fraud

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A private hire driver has been successfully prosecuted by Crawley Borough Council for fraudulently trying to obtain a council home.

Dilshad Ahmed, 51, of Leveret Lane, Langley Green, applied to join the council’s Housing Register in April 2016 and then in September 2016 he made a homeless application stating he could not afford to rent privately or get a mortgage.

A council spokesman said: “Mr Ahmed completed income forms in relation to his self-employed taxi work, but staff in the Housing Options Team were suspicious of the low figures he provided and passed their concerns to the council’s Corporate Fraud Team.

“An investigation established that Mr Ahmed had started full-time employment around the time that he joined the Housing Register and the council’s Fraud Officers obtained evidence which showed that he had earned more than £33,000 during a six month period between April and October 2016, which was substantially higher than the earnings figures he declared.

“Mr Ahmed withheld his true income details from the council and did not inform officers of this change in his circumstances.

“He was interviewed under caution by the Fraud Team and subsequently charged with withholding information relevant to his housing application.

“He pleaded guilty at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on May 19, to an offence under the Housing Act 1996 and was sentenced to a £1,200 fine and ordered to pay costs of £1,232.

“He has been removed from the Housing Register.”

The Audit Commission estimates that the loss incurred by local authorities if someone fraudulently obtains a council house is in the region of £18,000, the council spokesman added.

This is due to the cost of another housing applicant being placed in bed and breakfast accommodation.

Anyone who thinks they know someone who has made a false application to be housed, is not living at their council property or has illegally sublet it, can contact the Corporate Fraud Team in confidence 24 hours a day on 0800 634 0180 or email investigations@crawley.gov.uk.

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