Fraudsters who pretended they lived in Grenfell Tower claimed nearly £1m in hotel accommodation

By Julia Gregory, local democracy reporter

Fraudsters who wrongly said they lived in Grenfell Tower claimed nearly £1m in hotel accommodation and housing after the fatal disaster.

Police and council investigators uncovered £945,000 in fraud after the blaze which claimed the lives of 72.

Recently investigators have  pursued another 12 cases of fraud over the last two years by people who falsely claimed they lived in Grenfell Tower.

The council’s head of audit, fraud, risk and insurance, David Hughes, said the 11 cases proved in 2019-20 were worth £74,009, whilst one person had £60,056 of services in a case proved last year.

After the fire in June 2017 survivors were put up in hotels before they were rehoused.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster the policy was to give out money to those in need and ask questions later.

Survivors lost their possessions, including paperwork and identity documents, in the fire and had to flee.

People who were sleeping at the Tower on the night of the fire were eligible for help under the council’s housing policy.

The fire claimed the lives of 72 people, including an unborn child and 231 others managed to escape.

However some people who did not live in Grenfell also claimed help.

They were put up in hotels, given prepaid bank cards and helped with other expenses. The council also paid up to  £300 a week for food for adults and £150 for children and also paid for other hotel costs, such as laundry.

One serial fraudster, Anh Nhu Nguyen, 53, who had 17 aliases, claimed he lost his wife and son in the fire and met Prince Charles at a recovery centre for survivors.

He received £12,500 from the council and charities in the two weeks after the fire but was caught out when he gave  different flat numbers as his address, including some which did  not exist and was later jailed  in 2018 for 21 months.

In one case heard at Isleworth Crown Court in 2019 Alvin Thompson had £96,000 of hotel accommodation, emergency help and a council home.

He was put up in a range of high end hotels including the Park Plaza Hotel in Westminster, Park Grand Palace, Park Plaza County Hall and the Radisson Blu – racking up a £60,000 bill, plus £746 in expenses between July 2017 and February 2018.

The 51-year-old was found guilty and jailed for five and a half years.

Another couple Carmel Daly, 50, and Robert Kenneally, 52, defrauded the council out of £47,802  in the 14 months after the fire.

They initially turned up to the Westway sports  centre which was used as an emergency space for survivors and said they were homeless.

However they later claimed that they met  Grenfell resident Denis Murphy in a pub and he offered to let them stay with him.

Mr Murphy died in the fire and his neighbours and family told the jury they had never heard of the couple.

Daly was jailed for four years and three months, whilst Kenneally was handed a sentence of  four years and nine months after their trial in 2019.

So far £20,825 has been recovered from two people who were jailed by the courts for Grenfell fraud.

The money has gone back into the council’s Grenfell support fund.

But none of the other people who were successfully prosecuted had any funds which the police could recover.

 


 

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