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Published: Monday, 30th December 2019

We recently prosecuted three scammers in a triple case bust.

These three individuals defrauded the Council of more than £70,000 in total. 

First case

Mr Cyril St John-Commey has been sentenced to eight months imprisonment and asked to pay full compensation of almost £20,000 for failing to declare he had moved out of his council property and subletting it without consent.

In 2012, Mr St John-Commey was placed in a one-bedroom flat in Woolwich. Following our investigation in 2018, it was revealed that he moved out in 2016 and was letting the property to someone else, despite securing a joint tenancy of a four-bedroom home with his wife in east London. The 44-year-old railway employee was sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court.

Second case

Mr Adebayo Ishola has been handed a 12-month community order, he must complete 200 hours of unpaid work and was asked to pay £700 in compensation, after also committing tenancy fraud.

In 2010, Mr Ishola was placed in a one-bedroom house in Plumstead under PA Housing, a registered provider of social housing.

However, our joint investigation with the housing association determined that the 40-year old door supervisor had moved out of the property and was now living in Kent. Mr Ishola was sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court.

Third case

Our third investigation led to the prosecution of Mr Stephen Ssemanda and Ms Winifred Nyonyintono for direct payment fraud – direct payments are for people who have been assessed by the Council as needing assistance with their daily care needs.

Mr Ssemanda, a qualified accountant from Eltham, was given a 24-month suspended prison sentence, ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work and must pay £100. The 49-year-old fraudulently received more than £47,000 in direct payments for care for his mother that did not take place.

Ms Winifred Nyonyintono, also a qualified accountant, was identified as one of five carers who had received direct payments for the non-existent care of Mr Ssemanda’s elderly mother. The 33-year-old from Sheffield was ordered to undertake 70 hours of unpaid work in the community and to pay costs of £100.

We are now seeking to recover the £47,000 from Mr Ssemanda and Ms Nyonyintono. 

Making fraudsters accountable 

Cllr Christine Grice, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said: “These fraudulent individuals have taken away funds and services from people who are truly in need and when people are selfish and dishonest in this way, they should be held accountable.

“Sadly, Royal Greenwich is not immune to these types of fraud cases, however our specialist anti-fraud team will continue to work diligently to investigate any allegations and ensure that people who exploit the Council face prosecution.

“I urge anyone who suspects fraud is being carried out against Royal Greenwich to report it, because we want to ensure benefits and services are being used by the people that legitimately need them.”

A spokesperson from PA Housing said: “The case of Mr Ishola has highlighted the benefits of collaborative working in tackling tenancy fraud. By working collaboratively with the Royal Borough of Greenwich on this case, we were able to recover a property for someone in need who is on the Council’s housing register and ensure a clear message is sent out, that tenancy fraud will not be tolerated and may lead to a criminal conviction.”

Who you gonna call? Fraudbusters!

Our dedicated anti-fraud team investigates allegations of fraud and illegitimate use of Council funds and services.

If you suspect someone is committing fraud against the Royal Borough of Greenwich, please call 0800 169 6975 or email fraud@royalgreenwich.gov.uk. Any information you give will be treated in confidence.