Jail for benefit cheat who claimed to live in this uninhabitable Southend flat

Flat of doom – the empty property Vassell claimed to live in

Flat of doom – the empty property Vassell claimed to live in

First published in News by

A MAN who made up a Southend address to claim housing benefit has been jailed.

Roy Vassell, 47, of Guildford Road, Guildford, was handed a 12-week prison sentence by magistrates for 15 counts of housing benefit fraud.

He must also pay back £1,615.54 of wrongfully-obtained housing benefit.

Vassell received the benefits from Southend Council for what he described as a basement flat in Clifftown Road, Southend.

However, the council later cancelled his claim after he failed to reply to a request for more information.

Pictures taken by the council show the flat was uninhabitable, with junk blocking access, damp causing the ceiling to crumble away and a grotty bathroom which looks like it hasn’t been used for years.

Vassell was undeterred by the council cancelling his benefit claim and asked for another £4,100 of benefits to cover rent arrears he said he owed his landlord.

He said the landlord had hired a debt recovery companywhich was pursuing him for money, but it turned out to be his own company.

Echo:

Echo:

The council’s corporate fraud investigation team visited the basement and found no flat existed.

In formal interviews, Vassell said he had been living at the property, where he had spent time and money decorating. However, he was unable to show what improvements he had made, or describe the owner or landlord.

Basildon Magistrates’ Court heard Vassell completed a false tenancy agreement and a false application for housing benefit from the outset.

He compounded the offences by repeatedly applying for the backdated money he was not entitled to.

The council’s corporate director for corporate services, Sally Holland, said: “Although we are committed to paying benefits to those who are entitled, the council also has a duty to protect the public purse and take action against people committing benefit fraud.”

To raise suspicions over a person’s entitlement to benefits, call the corporate fraud investigation team on 01702 215254, or email counterfraud@southend.gov.uk.

Information is treated in confidence.

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Comments (9)

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4:58pm Mon 19 May 14

Howard Cháse says...

He should have told them he was an MP or a member of the House of Lords. Might have got away with it then....
He should have told them he was an MP or a member of the House of Lords. Might have got away with it then.... Howard Cháse
  • Score: 10

6:04pm Mon 19 May 14

the25man says...

Oh great not only were us tax payers handing him benefits but now we put him up at tax payers cost for twelve weeks
Oh great not only were us tax payers handing him benefits but now we put him up at tax payers cost for twelve weeks the25man
  • Score: 3

7:24pm Mon 19 May 14

Blind Haze says...

Guildford Road still isn't in Guildford...
Guildford Road still isn't in Guildford... Blind Haze
  • Score: 3

8:10pm Mon 19 May 14

pembury53 says...

seems harsh, for peanuts....
seems harsh, for peanuts.... pembury53
  • Score: -7

8:53pm Mon 19 May 14

Eric the Red says...

pembury53 wrote:
seems harsh, for peanuts....
You ARE joking? Scumbags like him are the leeches of society, freeloading off tax-paying citizens.
[quote][p][bold]pembury53[/bold] wrote: seems harsh, for peanuts....[/p][/quote]You ARE joking? Scumbags like him are the leeches of society, freeloading off tax-paying citizens. Eric the Red
  • Score: 8

11:12pm Mon 19 May 14

pembury53 says...

Eric the Red wrote:
pembury53 wrote:
seems harsh, for peanuts....
You ARE joking? Scumbags like him are the leeches of society, freeloading off tax-paying citizens.
the real leeches of society occupy somewhat more comfortable surroundings..... don't be a fool, like so many of the sheep.....
[quote][p][bold]Eric the Red[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]pembury53[/bold] wrote: seems harsh, for peanuts....[/p][/quote]You ARE joking? Scumbags like him are the leeches of society, freeloading off tax-paying citizens.[/p][/quote]the real leeches of society occupy somewhat more comfortable surroundings..... don't be a fool, like so many of the sheep..... pembury53
  • Score: -2

4:04pm Tue 20 May 14

runwellian says...

pembury53 wrote:
seems harsh, for peanuts....
Not long enough, anyone that steals from tax payers deserves a minimum of one year, going up by an extra year for every £1.000. the cheat.
[quote][p][bold]pembury53[/bold] wrote: seems harsh, for peanuts....[/p][/quote]Not long enough, anyone that steals from tax payers deserves a minimum of one year, going up by an extra year for every £1.000. the cheat. runwellian
  • Score: 1

4:19pm Tue 20 May 14

paulatepc says...

Howard Cháse wrote:
He should have told them he was an MP or a member of the House of Lords. Might have got away with it then....
...or just asked to apologize..
[quote][p][bold]Howard Cháse[/bold] wrote: He should have told them he was an MP or a member of the House of Lords. Might have got away with it then....[/p][/quote]...or just asked to apologize.. paulatepc
  • Score: 2

8:28pm Tue 20 May 14

pembury53 says...

runwellian wrote:
pembury53 wrote:
seems harsh, for peanuts....
Not long enough, anyone that steals from tax payers deserves a minimum of one year, going up by an extra year for every £1.000. the cheat.
that would put the average boardroom occupant in nick for about 700 years...
[quote][p][bold]runwellian[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]pembury53[/bold] wrote: seems harsh, for peanuts....[/p][/quote]Not long enough, anyone that steals from tax payers deserves a minimum of one year, going up by an extra year for every £1.000. the cheat.[/p][/quote]that would put the average boardroom occupant in nick for about 700 years... pembury53
  • Score: 1

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