25th February, 2011
An ex-council flat in London is said to house 500 people in a benefit fraud pepertrated by Nigerians which has cost taxpayers at least Â£1 million (about N250 million).
According to TheSUN of London, the Nigerian crooks have used the three-bedroom home to steal family tax credits and child benefits using the names of unsuspecting real people.
Corrupt insiders at the Department for Work and Pensions supplied the IDs of genuine claimants whose benefits ended after they got jobs.
The gang then made new claims from 25 Brookstone Court in Peckham, South East London. Direct debit benefit payments were routed to Nigeria.
The con exploited the weakness of Government computer systems which failed to spot the same address.
A source said: â€œWe believe it went on for several years and easily involves over Â£1million, or higher.â€
The co-owner of the flat – bought for Â£67,000 from Southwark Council in 2004 – was arrested last week.
Akinmayone Aiyeloa was quizzed over allegations of conspiracy to defraud over Â£20,000.
Two DWP employees have also been arrested and dismissed. Further arrests are expected.
Officials believe similar scams are being run nationwide. Benefit fraud costs the country Â£5.2billion a year.
A source said: â€œThis is just one element of a huge swindle.
â€œA weakness has been detected and exploited by foreign gangs.
â€œWe are talking about many millions being stolen when a simple computer programme could have stopped it.â€
When The Sun called at 25 Brookstone Court there was no answer.
A neighbour said: â€œAbout four people live there, but not a family.â€
Last night, former Scotland Yard commander John Oâ€™Connor called the scam â€œutterly outrageousâ€.
He said: â€œSimple checks by auditors should have stopped this.â€