Series following housing fraud investigators. A benefits cheat is caught on camera as she puts on a performance to try and get a council flat.
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I'm Michelle Ackerley.
My parents both grew up on council estates, and as a family
we understand the difference social housing can make to people's lives.
Millions of families across the UK are struggling to find affordable housing.
So, this is my front room and my bedroom together.
Many are living in temporary or overcrowded conditions,
desperate for somewhere decent to live.
This is our room where we sleep and this is what we've got at the minute.
We can't really call it our home.
But some social housing tenants are abusing the system,
holding on to properties they no longer need.
When somebody applies for housing,
you expect them to live in the property and when they don't,
it does start to take the mickey.
Or even worse - making a small fortune by illegally subletting them.
He was charging beyond £1,500 a month.
He exploited this completely to his advantage.
So, I'm with housing investigators cracking down on tenancy cheats.
What a waste.
If you want to commit tenancy fraud, don't bother coming here.
I need to speak to you, please.
They've seen an opportunity and they think they're not going to get caught.
..and giving them to families in genuine need.
That's how a council house should be.
It should be loved and looked after.
This is Council House Crackdown.
an undercover sting exposes a £150,000 benefit swindle...
You just don't expect someone to be this brazen.
..and unearths an astonishing attempt at tenancy fraud.
I think the only thing that's true in this application is her name.
The whole thing in this form is completely made up.
Yeah, a complete load of tosh.
The hunt for a tenancy cheat after a decade of deception.
There's the possibility that he could've approached an organised crime group.
If people are willing to pay that money,
they will be able to acquire false identity documents.
And a ludicrous attempt to deceive housing authorities.
I even said to him at one stage,
"Do you really expect us to believe that these are your things?"
But he just didn't have any explanation whatsoever.
This is the lovely seaside resort of Broadstairs in Kent and it was here
that council investigators embarked on a three-month surveillance
operation that helped uncover a £150,000 fraud
and an audacious attempt to obtain a highly sought-after social housing property.
This lady, struggling into the Royal Borough of Greenwich Council offices,
is 56-year-old Lisa White.
She claims to be severely disabled and she's hoping that Greenwich Council
might grant her a specially adapted property.
What she doesn't realise is that she's already under investigation by
Greenwich Council's fraud team.
The story began three months earlier in Greenwich, south-east London.
This handsome borough on the banks of the River Thames boasts a wealth
of history and heritage.
But at any time there can be up to 16,000 people on the social housing waiting list here.
Counter-fraud manager Nigel Brown works for the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
When the council's housing team carried out a routine check of all their benefit claimants,
Mrs White was on the list.
In total, she was receiving about £600, £700 a week in various benefits.
They did a financial review on her account to make sure that she was still
entitled to the money that was being paid to her.
A large proportion of the benefits Lisa White received was to pay
for full-time disability care.
Mrs White was completely disabled, unable to walk unaided,
needed an oxygen tank and on one occasion she had told the medical team here
in the social services that she only had three years to live.
But when authorities examined invoices from her carer,
they discovered that he was living 70 miles away from her in Broadstairs, Kent.
I'm no expert on travel, but I know that if I was to be travelling from
Broadstairs every day to come and care for Mrs White every day,
as she was reporting to be done, that would be a journey and a half.
It would take you longer to get up here every day than it would to do the work,
so that just really wasn't feasible.
Mrs White's file was passed on to Nigel's fraud team and amongst all
the paperwork, one name stood out.
On here, it shows that her carer is Andrew White and what we found was,
when we did a credit check on Mr White...
..it became apparent that he had various links to Lisa White, so they
appeared to be maybe together in some way.
And we found that,
yes, he was related, he was her husband and they had married in 1984.
When investigators analysed Mr White's property records,
they made a shocking discovery.
We then looked at the address that we had held for him in Broadstairs
and we found that in July 2007
both he and Mrs White had purchased a property on a mortgage and they
were, by all effects, by all we could see,
living in Broadstairs as a couple.
Lisa White had told authorities that she was disabled and struggling with
an elderly mother in a one-bedroomed council flat in Greenwich.
This evidence told a different story.
It looked like she was actually married and a home owner,
living with her husband, Andrew White,
in the picturesque seaside town of Broadstairs in Kent.
It was beginning to look like Lisa White was leading a double life and
when investigators dug deeper,
the evidence suggested that it wasn't just her living arrangements that
she'd been lying about.
We did some more checks and it soon came up that Lisa White was connected,
not only to the address that she was living at with her husband,
but also linked to the Bandstand in Broadstairs,
and also the White House Cafe.
During the spring and summer,
the Bandstand Kiosk and the White House Cafe in the centre of Broadstairs
are thriving businesses, serving locals and tourists alike.
A quick check online suggested that the patrons of these flourishing
businesses were none other than Andrew and Lisa White.
We found several online reviews in relation to how Lisa White
and Andrew White, husband and wife, were together and running this
business and had done for many years,
so of course we were thinking, if this lady is as bad as she seems,
ie, she couldn't lift a cup of tea or walk unaided or would need a
wheelchair to be outside to manoeuvre herself around,
how could she be running a cafe and a bandstand?
Since 2009, Mrs White had been claiming disability benefits
and high rate income support
along with financial support for medical prescriptions and a host
of disability care payments.
Authorities calculated that Mrs White may have cheated them out
of more than £150,000 in unentitled benefits.
It was time to take action.
We needed to look closer to see if we were being defrauded completely,
and that's what we did.
We applied to the Magistrates' Court for surveillance and we were agreed
on a period of three months to undertake surveillance down in Broadstairs.
It all happened, started happening very quickly.
..a surveillance operation to capture a benefits cheat unearths evidence of tenancy fraud.
I could have fell off the chair, really,
because you just don't expect someone to be this brazen.
It was like we had hit a gold mine.
In some cases,
tenancy cheats are identified and brought to justice in a matter of months.
In others it could take years. But however long it takes,
the message from housing investigators is clear.
There is no hiding place.
They will track you down and they will get those properties back.
This photo belongs to Jamaican national Duhane Hall.
The passport it's attached to belongs to somebody else entirely.
The cat-and-mouse game this tenancy cheat played with authorities lasted
more than a decade and cost the taxpayer nearly £200,000.
Counter-fraud manager Oliver Knight was in charge of the investigation.
So, Oliver, let's go back to the very beginning.
When did Duhane Hall first apply for a council flat?
He initially applied for a council property in 2005,
approached the council and basically needed accommodation.
When authorities checked the application everything seemed in order.
He provided his circumstances, explaining that he needed accommodation,
he'd come from Jamaica and he was living on his own.
-Perfectly legitimate as far as we were concerned at that time.
-So, no alarm bells, it just seemed perfectly genuine.
Provided sufficient identification, it all seemed above board.
As a non-UK citizen Mr Hall was required to provide proof that not only
was he eligible for social housing,
that he was also a permanent resident in the UK.
This required Home Office approval,
with an official stamp as well as a fully stamped and approved passport.
Mr Hall was able to provide everything required by Sandwell Council.
As well as the application
he provided documentation from the Home Office
explaining he had indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom
and a Jamaican passport which was also stamped with indefinite leave to
remain in the United Kingdom.
And looking through this documentation, again that seemed completely above board?
Above board and no alarm bells suggested anything untoward.
In a 2016 study by the Office for National Statistics, Sandwell was placed
in the top ten most deprived areas in the country.
Before he could be awarded any social housing,
Mr Hall would have to join a waiting list.
In Sandwell we have got almost 29,000 council properties, but we still
have 7,000 people, approximately, on the waiting list,
so it's all about trying to get the properties to the right people.
Authorities concluded that after leaving Jamaica to make a fresh start in
the UK, Mr Hall was in genuine need of support.
In March 2005 he was placed onto the social housing waiting list and
eventually a suitable property became available.
Sandwell Council gave Duhane Hall the keys to his very own one-bedroom
flat just six miles west of Birmingham in Oldbury.
A one-bedroom flat, it's sought-after, isn't it?
It is, yeah, and obviously the location that it's in,
it's not too far away from the bigger city, so it was a good location for him.
Satisfied that Mr Hall's needs had been met, authorities moved on to
focus their efforts on the next applicant needing support.
As far as Duhane Hall was concerned, the case was closed.
But a full decade later, in September 2015, everything changed.
Every two years we take part in the national data match that matches
records from all over the country,
including tenancy records, benefit records.
And it was this routine search that threw up something unusual.
According to the national data match,
Duhane Hall should never have been placed on the social housing waiting
list in the first place.
In fact, he should never even have been in the country.
According to the Home Office he had made repeated applications to remain
in the UK, all of which had been rejected.
It appeared that Duhane Hall had been an illegal UK resident since 2003.
So, how long was he actually living at that council property for?
He'd probably been living there almost ten years by this point.
So, ten years he was living under the radar,
-basically invisible to the authorities?
-He was, yeah.
How had Duhane Hall managed to not only remain in the UK,
but fool Sandwell Council into granting him a one-bedroom property in one of
the most sought-after areas in the borough?
How does someone know how to do this? In my mind I'm just thinking,
..the hunt for a conman suggests links with organised crime.
But it wasn't a case of him just doing it on his own,
he must have had some kind of help.
Earlier, we learned how tenancy fraud officers from the Royal Borough of Greenwich
launched an investigation into 56-year-old Lisa White.
She claimed to be disabled and living in a one-bedroom property with an elderly mother.
So, in total she was receiving about £600, £700 per week.
In various benefits.
But investigators suspected that Mrs White was actually running a thriving
business at the Bandstand Kiosk in Broadstairs, Kent.
To confirm their suspicions,
fraud investigators set up surveillance in Broadstairs.
The challenge for counter-fraud investigator Clive Parrish was to capture her on camera.
So, what had you been told about Mrs White?
Well, all the information and intelligence we had was that this was a woman who
was quite severely disabled.
She didn't go out unless she had a wheelchair and an oxygen tank.
She could only walk indoors with the aid of a stick.
That she was very breathless with her asthma
and some days could barely talk because of it.
So, you rocked up to this point, this was your, kind of, first surveillance point.
You've got the kiosk there. What were you expecting to see?
As soon as we arrived, and from the vantage point at the top we could see
that there was movement already.
It all happened, started happening very quickly.
Clive and his surveillance team began covert filming of the Bandstand Kiosk.
We got close enough to hear
the man that was there, who was her husband, call her Lisa and her call him
by his name, and so we very quickly worked out what we had.
-And that lady was Mrs White?
-That lady turned out to be Mrs White.
The footage Clive's team captured was astonishing and proved once and for
all what investigators suspected.
Lisa White was leading a double life.
So, right from the off you're here filming,
you can see that she is an able-bodied woman.
Lisa White, supposedly wheelchair-bound and severely disabled,
seemed to be in good health and able to run a thriving seaside cafe.
Obviously you reported back to the office,
they were waiting really with bated breath, weren't they, to see what you had managed to find?
-What was their reaction to it?
-When we played back the footage, um...
people where amazed.
We were in the office here waiting, I certainly was,
eagerly waiting on the phone to see what they were going to find.
I wouldn't say there was bets on whether or not she was going to be
disabled or not, but it was certainly the feeling that it's going to be an interesting day.
The first day we're down there, if we see her, as to whether she is able to walk or not.
And it was amazing.
When they finally called me that day and gave me an update, well,
I could have fell off the chair, really, because you just don't expect.
Even though we had a
really huge inkling that this would be happening,
you just don't expect someone to be this brazen.
People just were open-mouthed in disbelief.
In order to build a case against Mrs White the investigators had to
demonstrate that her seemingly good health wasn't just a one-off.
They continued filming and in the days and weeks that followed,
Clive and the team captured footage of Mrs White walking to and from work,
and even visiting a cash-and-carry
to stock up on supplies for the kiosk.
All the while claiming thousands in disability benefits.
It was like we had hit a gold mine
in terms of what we had hoped to find.
It was exactly what we had hoped.
I was outraged, the whole team were outraged,
this lady has been claiming this money for years and years.
She is not only getting our money as well,
she is also getting other money from the state,
no doubt she was getting all of her prescriptions free.
Everything else that you get as a disabled person, she was taking those away
from the genuine people that would get these benefits that are now being cut.
It was outrageous, really, it really was.
It was just blatant. It's an affront to disabled people.
..Mrs White attempts to get her hands on a precious social housing property.
But the investigators are one step ahead of her.
She came in here as a full-blown actress, she deserved an Oscar
for that one, I think, really, on that day.
Earlier, Jamaican Duhane Hall was not only living illegally in the UK,
but was also granted a social housing property by Sandwell Council.
He provided documentation from the Home Office explaining he had
indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom. And a passport,
a Jamaican passport, which was also stamped with indefinite leave
to remain in the United Kingdom.
Sandwell Council leader Steve Eling knows the effect
tenancy fraud can have in an already economically deprived borough.
There is a significant demand,
particularly for social housing in Sandwell.
And what that means is every time we've got people going in tenancies
fraudulently, they are denying those people who are on the waiting list
to get a decent-quality permanent home and that can't be right.
The Home Office had informed Sandwell Council that Duhane Hall's residency
in the UK had expired ten years earlier.
Somehow, Mr Hall had managed to fake documentation from a government ministry.
And we're not sure even now what that letter is and
whether it's a genuine letter that was amended or whether it's just a completely fake letter.
We have made enquiries with the Home Office and
they weren't really sure one way or the other.
After convincing authorities that he was legally entitled to remain in the UK,
Duhane Hall applied for social housing.
He was allocated a one-bedroom property in Oldbury and then set his sights
on illegally claiming even more benefits.
But for that, he would need a UK passport.
The passport itself, it was a genuine passport.
It was reported lost about four or five years
prior to Duhane Hall using it.
How did he manage to doctor it, though?
The truth is we don't actually know.
How it ever fell into Duhane Hall's hands we're not sure.
So, this passport number here is genuine and then he has put his information...
-Yes, or someone has for him.
-..on top of it.
-Cos looking at it,
this requires real skill, it requires knowledge, doesn't it?
-To know, even if you're not doing it yourself, knowing where to go in order to get it done.
And that's why it was such a determined effort,
it wasn't a case of him just doing it on his own,
he must have had some kind of help.
Obviously there's the possibility that he could've approached an organised crime group.
If people are willing to pay that money then they will be able to acquire a
false identity or false identity documents.
Fake Home Office documents,
social housing acquired through deception and a doctored passport
acquired by a man who should have left the country ten years earlier.
Duhane Hall was guilty of a systematic campaign to deceive Sandwell Council
and the benefit system in a tenancy fraud on a massive scale.
What I find baffling is how does someone know how to do this?
-In my mind I'm just thinking, you know, "It's crazy."
And I think it goes to show the level of investment he must have undertaken in
order to go and get this property in the first place.
It wasn't just something he stumbled across,
he was obviously willing to put money and time and investment into it
in order to go and get that property.
Armed with a catalogue of illegitimate paperwork,
Duhane Hall then successfully applied for housing benefit,
council tax benefit and Jobseeker's Allowance.
Over a ten-year period,
Mr Hall received around £180,000 from the public purse.
And all the while living in a council property obtained by deception.
It's absolute deliberate fraud,
this isn't the sort of stuff that comes about because there was a mistake,
somebody put the wrong date on the form or something,
this is, you know, absolute deliberate fraud.
And he got away with it for quite some time.
Investigators had seen enough.
It was time to confront this fraudster.
Obviously, first and foremost what we initially try to do is try and speak to the gentleman.
Obviously, we haven't got powers of arrest or anything like that, so a lot of the time
it is by voluntary interview.
He decided that he didn't want to come in and speak to us...
I am not surprised. SHE LAUGHS
In fact, when Duhane Hall learned that the authorities were wise to his deception, he absconded.
What followed was a six-month investigation to track down the fraudster.
Obviously, the investigators, they can sort of take this personally, because obviously it's their job
to try and bring these people to justice, so obviously it's all about trying to track these people down.
-Where did you find him?
-In this case the gentleman had actually taken out a doorstep loan
at one point, so it was quite easy to establish where he was at that point in time.
Once authorities caught up with Duhane Hall he was made to answer for his crimes.
In court he pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud by false representation,
and was sentenced to three years in jail.
Sandwell Council has a strong fraud team and there is a message for people
out there - if you want to commit tenancy fraud don't bother coming here,
because sooner or later you will be caught.
After a decade of deception,
Sandwell fraud investigators were finally able to recover a much-needed property.
What does this mean for you going forward with that property now?
We've got the keys back.
We've now managed to re-let that one out to a gentleman who was in
desperate need of it, he was on the waiting list and now he's got that property.
I am guessing now you feel a lot better that you've got the
property back and it can be used suitably?
Yeah, that helps to bring our waiting lists down,
which is what it's all about.
When Duhane Hall is released from prison he will be deported.
Wolverhampton in the West Midlands,
an historic industrial town and one of the pioneering cities for social
housing development after the First World War.
Social housing in this part of the UK has suffered in more recent times.
It's been 30 years since building work on any new council property has taken place.
But now, just south of the city, the diggers are out once more.
Wolverhampton Homes lettings manager Pauline Evans is overseeing completion
of 130 new council properties on the Lanesfield development site.
This build is looking for completion around mid-September.
I'll look to advertise these out around June, July.
There's around 2,500 families who are looking for a
two-bedroom home like this.
I expect anything up to 300 bids for every property here.
So, it's excellent that we've got new builds coming.
Until those precious new properties come online,
authorities will have to make the best of their existing housing stock.
Developments like this high-rise just three miles north of Lanesfield.
It was here that Wolverhampton Homes counter-fraud manager Elaine Morgan
had to unravel an unusual deception involving two separate flats on two separate floors.
That was the position of the upstairs flat.
-This is the stairwell leading to that floor.
And then as you come down we can see the downstairs flat there.
I see, so it's a real upstairs-downstairs scenario with this, isn't it?
Yes, it is.
In February 2016 the tenants in both flats placed an unusual application
with Wolverhampton Homes.
Why did the tenants in these properties contact the council in the first place?
The reason they contacted the council is because they put
a request in for a mutual exchange.
A mutual exchange allows one tenant to swap properties with another.
The exchange can be between two dwellings within the same local authority
or even different local authorities anywhere in the UK.
The only condition is that both parties enter willingly into the exchange
and are eligible to reside in the exchanged properties.
In this case the two tenants were neighbours living in the same block.
The downstairs flat wanted to swap to the upstairs flat and the upstairs flat
to swap to the downstairs flat.
There was just one problem.
The woman occupying the flat upstairs was listed as having at least two children.
Her flat had two bedrooms.
Downstairs, a Mr Ahmed Ahmed was listed as living alone.
His flat had just one bedroom.
So, that must have started you thinking,
"Why would a property that's got children in it want to move to a smaller one?"
Well, if it's got children, why would they want to move to a one-bedroom flat?
Yeah. And so what was flagged up when you started delving into the case?
The tenant of the downstairs flat was actually the father of those children.
Investigations revealed that the two neighbours had become a couple.
Authorities began to wonder, "If Mr Ahmed was in a relationship with the woman upstairs,
"was he even living in his own flat?"
Fraud investigator Louise Humphries began to suspect Mr Ahmed could be in
breach of his tenancy agreement and possibly guilty of unlawfully
subletting his flat.
She decided to confront him face-to-face.
We asked for Mr Ahmed to come in and have a chat with us and he attended
an interview and he was just adamant that he did live at that property.
Investigators were unconvinced and decided to call Mr Ahmed's bluff.
They asked him to return to his flat where they'd be able to take a
closer look at his living arrangements.
He was adamant that he would be able to demonstrate easily to us that he
was resident, so we asked if we could come over immediately following the
meeting with him and he could show us what was in the property and he could demonstrate his residency.
And so how did you end up in this stairwell?
We left at the same time as Mr Ahmed and we drove here together,
myself and my colleague.
We came up onto the landing.
Mr Ahmed hadn't arrived.
It was then that Elaine saw something suspicious.
Whilst waiting for Mr Ahmed to arrive,
she saw another man leaving the building
from the direction of Mr Ahmed's property.
When Mr Ahmed finally arrived and let them into his flat,
Elaine spotted a photo which raised suspicions.
And I realised that the male in the photograph - it was a young couple -
was the male that I had seen.
So, what were you thinking then?
Then I started to think that that was the male who was living in the property.
And when investigators began looking around the flat,
the evidence suggested that the person living there was Lithuanian.
These are some of the photographs that we took whilst in the property.
As you can see, this is of a pregnancy scan and although it's a little bit
unclear, you can see that there's some writing there.
We asked Mr Ahmed what it said.
He wasn't able to tell us.
Again, we found this, I believe,
in the kitchen and it's a shopping list, again in another language.
Which is a language that Mr Ahmed can't speak, so again you're
thinking, "Why are all these things here?"
That's right. There was this reading book on top of the fireplace that was
sort of opened on a page and put down as though someone had been reading
it and left it behind,
and, again, he said he couldn't read that language.
I don't think he could even tell us what the language was that the book was written in.
He's taking you into his property that he's supposedly living in.
You're seeing all this evidence around you and he's basically saying,
-"Well, I don't know."
And I think I even said to him at one stage,
"Do you really expect us to believe that, you know,
"these are your things or that nobody else is living here?"
-But he just didn't have any explanation whatsoever.
When you're stood there and he's basically blurting out lie after lie,
what were you thinking at that point?
Yeah, it was clearly a lie and everything we asked,
we asked him to show us his belongings in the property and he wasn't able
to show us anything in there that belonged to him.
It was clear somebody was living in there,
we just didn't believe it was him.
And when investigators examined Mr Ahmed's bank statements,
their suspicions were further aroused.
There was a transaction for Google SpareRoom for a charge of £10.99.
Google SpareRoom is a website which advertises properties to let.
The price of £10.99 is the price that you pay to advertise your property,
so I think it was to advertise for a week and that was the charge.
The evidence suggested that Mr Ahmed was not living at his flat, and somebody else was.
The investigators decided to give Mr Ahmed one last chance.
We offered him the opportunity to terminate his tenancy, because if he'd have done so,
we wouldn't have taken any further action against him at that stage, but he didn't do that.
He decided that he would take it to court, so that's what we did.
Mr Ahmed engaged the services of a barrister and even persuaded the man
suspected of subletting his flat to testify in civil court.
But after weighing the evidence,
the judge awarded in favour of Wolverhampton Homes.
The judge took all of our evidence in entirety and he awarded us
possession of the property.
He stated that he didn't believe any of the evidence that Mr Ahmed had brought
forward and dismissed all of their evidence.
Mr Ahmed's tenancy was revoked and the team was able to take back possession of the flat.
Had he not applied for a mutual exchange,
there's no telling how long he could have got away with this deception.
We've now got a one-bedroom flat that we can allocate to somebody else
who genuinely needs it and not just someone that's going to rent it out.
There are so many people on our waiting list and social housing
properties are so sought after and so scarce now that we simply cannot
afford to sit back and allow that to happen.
Earlier, we saw how counter-fraud investigators managed to capture
astonishing footage of 56-year-old Lisa White after she'd claimed to be
severely disabled and wheelchair-bound.
I could have fell off the chair, really,
because you just don't expect someone to be this brazen.
It was like we'd hit a gold mine.
The evidence against Mrs White was starting to add up, but what happened
next took everyone by surprise.
We was in the middle of the investigation and we didn't do surveillance
every day, because obviously it's a long period of time,
so on this one particular day,
we got an notification that Miss White had been in the building and had
submitted a housing form to seek housing for herself.
The team immediately checked the CCTV footage of Mrs White's visit to the council offices.
What they witnessed was a complete contrast to the Mrs White they had been
filming over the past few weeks.
We then had footage of her coming in, supported by her husband,
barely able to walk.
She looks as though she's barely able to breathe as well, a lot of head movements.
She looked dreadful,
but yet two days later when our team were back out following her around,
she was almost as fit as a fiddle.
It was a complete put-on.
She had come in here to try and get housing which would have been
specially adapted housing for her needs with her oxygen tank and all the
other things that she needs to keep her alive, allegedly.
She would have cost us a fortune.
She came in here as a full-blown actress.
She deserved her Oscar for that one, I think, really, on that day.
Having witnessed her activities in Broadstairs,
investigators knew that Mrs White's tenancy application was fraudulent.
I think the only thing that's true on this application is her name.
The whole thing in this form is completely made up.
Yeah, complete load of tosh.
On top of claiming thousands in disability benefits,
Mrs White was now planning on claiming a council flat to call her own.
And all courtesy of the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
But by now, investigators had cast-iron proof that Lisa White already
owned her own luxury apartment in Broadstairs.
I mean, this is an ideal setting.
The building is stunning, it's right on the coast.
What's it like inside?
-Describe it to me.
-Well, quite amazing. Very luxurious.
I mean, the entrance hall,
it still looks like an old Victorian hotel reception.
It's really quite beautiful.
The evidence against Lisa White was irrefutable.
On 28 September 2015,
she was arrested at her Grand Mansions apartment on 13 fraud-related charges.
In the apartment, police found no walking stick or oxygen tank.
Instead, they discovered more than £5,000
of unused prescription medicine.
And when they examined the hard drive on her computer, they also found this.
MUSIC: All I Want For Christmas by Mariah Carey
# I don't want a lot for Christmas
# There is just one thing I need
# Don't care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree... #
And just when investigators had thought they'd seen it all.
It was just blatant that she was running a business down here,
living a very nice lifestyle and she was moving about very freely and
wasn't a disabled person.
She went, "All I want for Christmas," but she had pretty much got everything.
She'd got her nice little flat in Broadstairs,
another council flat she thought she was going to get up here,
her two businesses and a nice £37,000 mobility vehicle,
so I don't think she needed much more for Christmas that year.
In the end, it was Lisa White's own greed,
her attempt to get a council flat, that was to be her undoing.
So, really, her coming in here,
technically during the middle of our surveillance,
was a blessing in disguise, because it just showed the true level of how she
was pretending to be. It actually couldn't have gone any better.
By now investigators had been able to fully examine the extent of Mrs White's fraud.
What they uncovered amounted to a systematic abuse of the
benefits system stretching back more than six years.
Mrs White stole, that we could prove, just over £150,000.
Over a course of a few years she had been on cruises,
we found evidence she had been on cruises around the world.
In fact, even after she was arrested by the police and then bailed for
this, she then went on a £9,000 cruise,
so she clearly didn't have any remorse at all for the taxpayer that she'd stolen
from or the people that she may have deprived of the use of a nice
council property, if she had got the thing.
So, Ron, you're local to the area.
What did you think when you heard about the case of Mrs White?
Well, I thought it was absolutely disgusting. I really did.
Did she think we owed her something or...?
I don't know how their minds work
to be able to do this kind of thing.
No, I find it really difficult to understand.
There's somebody there taking money from people who really need it.
I mean, that's the worst sort as well, when you read the total amount,
and also being able to go to a van and carry boxes and been seen dancing.
I would give my right arm to be able to do any of those things.
No, it makes me feel very, very cross about her.
On March 2nd 2017,
after pleading guilty to one of the most shocking cases of benefit and
attempted tenancy fraud ever witnessed by Greenwich Council,
Mr and Mrs White faced the judge.
For his part in the deception Mrs White's husband Andrew received
a nine-month sentence suspended for two years.
Lisa White received an 18-month prison term.
Summing up her fraudulent behaviour, the judge stated...
You had invested a lot of time in this case to gather up the evidence that you needed.
On a personal level, aside from being an investigator,
how did it make you feel?
Well, it made me think that it's greed and completely unnecessary.
There were benefits in payment that this lady wasn't entitled to.
She was claiming to be disabled.
It's an affront to disabled people.
To come away knowing that she's now got to reflect on her crime over the
next few months or 18 months in prison is actually quite a nice feeling.
Hopefully, it might actually make her think twice about coming out and
doing the same again.
If fraud investigators hadn't exposed Lisa White's deception,
she would have obtained a specially adapted council property while others were left waiting.
This is Leanna Horne from Bromsgrove in Worcestershire.
She has first-hand experience of the uncertainty faced by disabled people
who find themselves on the social housing waiting list.
-Yeah, that's better.
-That is better.
-It felt a lot better.
Paralympian Leanna represents the UK in club throws, shot putts and discus.
Fiercely independent, Leanna was living in a privately rented flat,
but when her tenancy ended abruptly,
she faced the prospect of having to find somewhere else to live.
I just thought, you know, "Is somebody having a laugh?
"Is somebody...is this a joke?"
But obviously when you're handed a repossession notice you realise it's not a joke.
Hello. Hi, how are you?
Not too bad, thank you. Judy, in you come, darling. Good girl.
Leanna turned to Jo Rice from the Bromsgrove District Housing Trust for help.
When I had to go to BDHT,
that initial phone call, I felt completely defeated.
I thought I'd let everybody down because I had always been independent
and done everything myself.
Eight weeks on and Jo has given Leanna the keys to a new social housing
property, perfectly suited to her needs.
To actually be able to find accommodation which is suitable for our
customers when they have been through quite an anxious journey,
such as Leanna has been, is just a really good feeling.
-Are you settled?
-Getting there slowly.
-Yeah. Getting there slowly.
It was a huge, huge relief for me.
I suddenly know that I'm safe, I'm secure
and nobody can take this away from me.
Leanna has cerebral palsy, so requires specially adapted accommodation.
Because of the opportunities afforded by social housing,
she now has everything she needs to lead a truly independent life.
-Do you want to have a look in the bedroom, what they've done with the hoist?
Yeah, so they managed to use the same tracking as well...
-That's really good.
-..from my old property,
so it kept the cost down, but it also made it quicker for them to get it in,
which is obviously the main thing, cos if I can't get in and out of
-bed, it's a bit difficult.
-That's really good.
If I look back to the beginning when this was kind of dropped on me,
I couldn't see a way out, and then to suddenly look at this now,
it does seem almost like a fairy tale.
This is the end result. This is the best result that's possible,
when somebody comes in to you with housing need.
They're in crisis and to be able to help people is really important to me.
It makes my job worthwhile.
I still can't believe it and every morning I pinch myself and go,
"This is my home now."
Leanna's determination to lead an independent life is truly inspiring and
it's for people like her that housing investigators will continue in their
relentless fight to reclaim properties from tenancy cheats and give them
to people who really need them.