'Cynical' fraudster jailed for 10 months for council flat scam
PUBLISHED: 07:08 14 December 2018
A fraudster cheated the system to illegally sub-let her council home for her own "greedy profit" - and then bought it at a huge discount, a court heard.
Janice George has now been jailed for the fraud after she lied to Ipswich Borough Council to cut almost £50,000 off the asking price of her council home.
Branding the decision “cynical and pre-meditated”, Judge Rupert Overbury sentenced George, aged 60, to 10 months in prison at Ipswich Crown Court.
George falsely claimed she had lived at the property in Ulster Avenue, Ipswich, for five years, using the right to buy scheme to purchase a £70,000 home for just £21,000 - a 70% discount - in 2015.
She was in fact living with a partner in Wallace Road and renting the Ulster Avenue flat to others for up to £450 per month in that time.
Between 2010 and 2015, it was estimated that George had received almost £27,000 in rent and letting agent fees.
At her sentencing hearing on Thursday, December 13, Judge Overbury said: “Depriving the council of a home for personal financial gain is the action of a fraudster who cheats the system for their own greedy profit, which is exactly what you did.”
George was given a custodial sentence despite her age and this being her first offence.
She will spend 10 months of her sentence behind bars and an additional 10 months on licence.
Siobhan Martin, audit partnership manager at Ipswich Borough Council, said: “We are pleased with the sentence passed by Ipswich Crown Court, which reflects the seriousness of her offence.
“This person could afford to and chose to sub-let the property and live in another house. This was not somebody in difficult circumstances.
“This was greed and caused a significant impact to Ipswich taxpayers.”
The council will be pushing to recover the flat, as well as the proceeds of George sub-letting the property.
Specialist financial investigators at the council will aim to get as much of the money repaid as possible at an additional hearing in 2019.
Councillor Martin Cook, portfolio holder for resources at Ipswich Borough Council, added: “We take a zero tolerance approach to any type of fraud and our specialist investigators will pursue anybody who commits this type of crime.”