Benefit fraud funded 4m empire
January 18, 2008
An illegal immigrant has been jailed for five years and three months after funding a 4m property empire with a “breathtakingly” massive benefit fraud.
Saheed Ladega, 38, and his partner, Oluwatosin Gbadebo, 35, defrauded local authorities for nearly a decade.
The couple, who lived near Grays, Essex, claimed housing and council tax benefits from Waltham Forest and Newham councils in east London.
They used 26 false names to claim nearly 170,000 between 1997 and 2006.
London's Southwark Crown Court heard most of the cash that should have gone to the “truly deserving” was used as deposits for 11 properties in Leytonstone and West Ham bought with mortgages in false names.
Nigerian Ladega, who had already been deported once, lived in a lavishly-furnished “gated” five-bedroomed detached property with Oluwatosin Gbadebo, in Chafford Hundred and drove a top-of-the range Mercedes.
The couple, who had 5 children together, had faced 54 offences of furnishing false information, obtaining money transfers by deception, and converting criminal property between 1997 and 2006.
They had admitted some of the offences.
Judge Paul Dodgson told Ladega: “You behaved in such a dishonest way and while I won't say it is unique in this court it really is towards the top end of the scale.”
The judge said Ladega was deported after trying to beat immigration laws with a marriage of convenience, but returned with a fake British passport.
“Thereafter you abused the welfare system of this country that you weren't even entitled to be in, to fund a property empire.
“It was quite breathtaking dishonesty. It was the systematic exploitation of that welfare system.”
He said he had “no hesitation” in ordering him to again be deported.
Turning to a weeping Gbadebo, who was jailed for 18 months, the judge said he accepted she did as she was told by her partner.
“It weighs very heavily with me that five children will suffer from the fact that you will go to prison,” he said.