Emma Bucknor-Smartt, 43, of Enstone Road, Enfield was sentenced at Wood Green Crown Court on 6 December after admitting fraudulently claiming £52,783.75 in Housing Benefit and £4,763.98 in Council Tax Benefit from Enfield Council. She pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to dishonestly making a false statement and dishonestly producing a false document to Enfield Council.
She was also ordered to undertake a Community Order requiring her to complete 200 hours of unpaid work. The judge warned that if the community service was not completed she would go to prison. If she should commit another crime within the next two years she would also have to serve nine months in prison in addition to any other sentence she was given for the other offence.
The court heard that the fraud began in November 2005 when Miss Bucknor-Smartt made a claim for Housing and Council Tax Benefit from Enfield Council. She claimed that she was an unemployed lone parent with no savings, capital or investments and that she did not own a property therefore she needed help with meeting her rental liability for the property that she was renting privately from a landlord.
However Enfield Council’s Counter Fraud Team received anonymous information alleging that Miss Bucknor-Smartt was working full time and owned a property under her married name. Investigations established that between October 2005 and October 2011 Miss Bucknor-Smartt was working as an advice worker and being paid by an organisation called New Horizon Youth Centre under her married name of Emma Olaofe.
The team also established that Miss Bucknor-Smartt owned the property at Enstone Road, Enfield under the name of Emma Oluremilekun Olaofe. The property had been purchased in December 2005 a month after she had made her claim asking the council for help to pay rent.
When Miss Bucknor-Smartt was interviewed under Caution in February 2013 she admitted that she was the owner of the property, and that the tenancy agreement she provided was a false document which she had made up herself by picking a name of a company from the internet, and that she did not have to pay rent to her fictitious landlord.
She also admitted that she had worked for New Horizon Youth Centre under her married name and had provided her employers with a false national insurance number which she had made up by using the date of birth of her son.
Miss Bucknor-Smartt also admitted that the fraudulent Housing Benefit and Council Tax payments she had obtained from the London Borough of Enfield had been paid into an account that did not belong to her but to which she had access. She admitted that the account in question belonged to her sister.
Enfield Council will be asking the courts to confiscate any proceeds of the crime and fraud.
Cllr Andrew Stafford, Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Property said “I am extremely disappointed that Miss Bucknor-Smartt did not go to prison for the shameful offences that she committed, but I can assure residents that Enfield Council will do all it can to try and claw back the money that she stole from taxpayers during her spree of theft.
“People stealing benefits are a disgrace, and our Counter Fraud Team are working hard to track these individuals down and bring them to justice so we can stop taxpayers money going to thieves, scoundrels and other unworthy causes.”
To report fraud call Enfield Council’s Fraud Hotline on 020 8379 4289
Or e-mail: [email protected]