Mother with eight houses jailed for �200,000 benefits fraud

Council worker lied for seven years as she falsely claimed more than �200,000 in benefits

A Lisson Grove council worker who “systematically plundered the public purse” by claiming more than �200,000 in benefits despite owning eight houses has been jailed for two years.

Gladys Popoola, 47, of Jerome Crescent, consistently lied to seven benefit authorities from 2004 until her arrest in 2011, while using a fake identity and claiming to be unemployed and single.

As well as owning properties in Cricklewood, Forest Gate and Clapton, she also had five further houses in her native Kenya and worked for organisations including Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

Speaking at Southwark Crown Court last Friday (March 16), prosecutor David Jugnarain said Popoola had “systematically plundered the public purse” by using one identity to work and another to claim benefits.

Part of the income she received from renting out her London properties was derived from housing benefits that her tenants were claiming themselves.

“She has claimed these benefits on the basis that she is a single mother, with no savings, and in a relatively poor situation,” said Mr Jugnarain.

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“In fact, she had been working throughout, had been living with a partner, and had savings.”

He outlined how in applying for civil legal aid she had used Tipp-Ex to change her bank statement from a healthy �4,200 to an aid-qualifying �200.

Defence counsel Shiraz Aziz said Popoola’s 18-month-old son had a number of debilitating medical conditions including allergic dermatitis and moderate to severe developmental problems.

Judge Christopher Morris-Coole stated he had taken this into consideration but “the offences are so serious that only a custodial sentence should follow”.

Handing down the two-year sentence, Mr Morris-Coole concluded that “it was fraud over a significant period of time and constitutes multiple frauds”.

He added: “Cases of this nature stick at the very heart of the good faith in which the benefit system was founded.

“Where persons defraud the system they inevitably will make the claiming of benefits by others more problematic in that there is not a bottomless fund that has to go round to those persons who are deserving of them.”

Popoola had earlier pleaded guilty to 13 accounts of making a dishonest representation for benefit purposes, one count of fraudulently obtaining a tax credit, one count of possession of an article for use in fraud, one count of fraud by false representation, and one count of obtaining property by deception.