Couple first to be prosecuted in Stevenage for tenancy fraud since ‘spot the cheater’ investigation service launched
- Credit: Archant
The first couple have been prosecuted for tenancy fraud in Stevenage since a ‘spot the cheater’ investigation service was launched.
Officers at Stevenage Borough Council found evidence that a couple living in a three-bedroom council house in the Bedwell area had provided false information on their housing application so they were allocated a large property.
The couple, who returned the keys on October 9, were both given a two-year conditional discharge after pleading guilty at Stevenage Magistrates’ Court on Friday and ordered to pay total costs of £730 – with £400 covering council costs.
They co-operated fully with the investigation once they realised that officers – working in partnership with the newly formed Hertfordshire Shared Anti-Fraud Service – had obtained evidence against them.
Councillor Ann Webb, responsible for housing at Stevenage Borough Council, said: “I would like to thank the officers who dealt with this case for all their hard work.
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“The housing service is increasingly under pressure to provide accommodation for customers and we are really pleased that tenants who fraudulently obtained social housing have been brought to justice. This has enabled another family on our housing register to move into the property.”
Councillor Chris Hayward, who leads on resources matters at Hertfordshire County Council, added: “This is the first prosecution since the shared anti-fraud service was launched and it’s an encouraging start.
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“I’d call on residents to continue to do the right thing if they do know a cheat on their street. It’s not fair that you pay your taxes, while other people get away without paying them.
“All council services are funded by taxpayers, so when people commit council tax, tenancy or Blue Badge fraud, they are stealing from their whole community.
“We are always looking for ways to get the best value for money and this innovative new partnership working is already cutting fraud and saving money from Hertfordshire’s public purse. If you know a cheat on your street, report them.”
The authority have been raising awareness of the initiative using #spotthecheater on Twitter.
You can report suspected tenancy fraud in the strictest confidence at www.hertsdirect.org/reportfraud, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0300 123 4033. Alternatively email email@example.com or visit the Stevenage Customer Service Centre in the town centre.