A local authority housing officer who illegally sublet the council property she had never lived in, has been jailed following an investigation by Barnet Council’s anti-fraud team.
Julie Miah, 45, of Douglas Road, Luton, who worked as a housing officer for a local authority in another part of the country, was handed a 12-month prison term and ordered to pay £20,000 in compensation after admitting she had never lived in the two-bed council property in East Finchley.
Harrow Crown Court was told how Miah was first given the keys to the council property in Prospect Ring, in 2007, and immediately sublet it to a family member, while she moved into a house in Luton which she had jointly inherited.
Miah carried on this deception for 10 years until Barnet’s Corporate Anti-Fraud Team (CAFT) launched an investigation in April last year after receiving information to suggest the person living in the Barnet property was someone else.
Counter-fraud investigators were able to piece together a series of financial records which showed Miah had never lived in the property, and that clearly linked her to the house in Luton.
During the 10 years, Miah had always declared that she still lived in the property in East Finchley.
When interviewed under caution by council counter-fraud officers, Miah admitted to officers she had never lived in the flat and immediately agreed to hand back the keys.
Sentencing Miah at Harrow Crown Court on 9 February, His Honour Judge Hall, accepted that the deception was the result of a great deal of planning by Miah and that the nature of her work would have meant she was aware that her actions were dishonest.
In total, the 45-year-old pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud by failing to disclose information. In addition to the £20,000 she must pay in compensation, she was also ordered to pay £3,174 in costs.
Leader of Barnet Council, Councillor Richard Cornelius, said: “At a time of significant housing pressures, it is totally unacceptable for someone to abuse the system in this way for so long, without ever having any intention of living in the property.
“Council homes are there for people in genuine need of housing, not for personal gain.
“I hope the custodial sentence and order for compensation handed down by the court in this case, sends out a very clear message about the consequences for anyone who might be contemplating something similar.”
To report a fraud, email CAFT@barnet.gov.uk or call the council’s fraud hotline on 020 8359 2007.