A fraudster couple have been ordered to pay almost £11,000 by Woolwich Crown Court after falsely obtaining a two-bedroom council property from Greenwich council despite already owning a three-bedroom house in Sittingbourne.
Faton Gashi, 35, and Toma Valantinaite, 33, were also sentenced to 12 weeks and 22 weeks respectively, which was suspended for 18 months. In 2009, Gashi was given a one-bedroom property.
In 2011, he then told the council that his partner, Valantinaite, had moved into his property.
After the birth of their second child, the couple were rehoused to a two-bedroom property in Alnwick Road, Lee.
In October 2016, Valantinaite notified Greenwich council that her partner, Gashi, was no longer living at the address in Lee and no forwarding address was provided for him.
The tenancy at Alnwick Road was then transferred to her. In March 2017, Valantinaite applied to purchase the property in Lee under the Right to Buy scheme, however she failed to meet the requirements.
This then triggered an investigation by the council and it was discovered Gashi had purchased the Sittingbourne house.
Within weeks of this purchase their children were enrolled at a local nursery and school in the area.
Further evidence showed Valantinaite had financial links to the property and online orders with retailers were delivered to the Sittingbourne address in her name.
The couple were interviewed by council investigators in March 2018, but failed to admit their crimes and replied ‘no comment’ to all questions.
Shortly after this the keys to the property at Alnwick Road were returned to Royal Greenwich. Gashi and Valantinaite were summoned to attend Bexley Magistrates Court I October 2018 for committing fraud.
They both attended court but only Gashi pleaded guilty. As Valantinaite pleaded not guilty, the case was then referred to the crown court for trial in March 2019.
However, one week before the trial date Valantinaite changed her plea to guilty and both were sentenced on April 26 this year.