Couple jailed after seven-year housing benefit fraud nets £188,000

Croydon Council. Pic: Martin Stitchener

A married couple were jailed this week after a property scam which netted £188,000 of taxpayers’ money over seven years.

Nicole Mwamba, 48, and her husband William Kapuya, 47, were sentenced to 30 and 14 months respectively at Croydon Crown Court last month for 18 offences related to the fraud, which took place between 2004 and 2011.

Mwamba succeeded in claiming housing benefits after using multiple aliases and inventing various stories about her living situation. While claiming housing and council tax benefits from Croydon Council, she failed to declare that she in fact owned two properties in Beulah Grove, Selhurst, and Campbell Road, Caterham. The cash was used to invest in property and finance mortgage repayments.

While she was living with her husband Kapuya, Mwamba told the council that she lived alone in Langdale Road, Thornton Heath. To Tandridge Council, Mwamba said she was a tenant at Campbell Road, Caterham.  Among the details in her cover stories were an invented landlord called Nikole Kapuya and a Belgian national’s personal details.

Simultaneously, Kapuya failed to declare to the authorities that he was living with his wife, and said that he resided by himself at several addresses. He also applied for a severe disability premium, reporting to the Department for Work and Pensions that he did not live with Mwamba.

“These two individuals cheated the taxpayer out of a colossal sum of money by claiming they were single people with no sources of income or capital,” said Councillor Simon Hall, cabinet member for finance and treasury.

“It serves as a lesson to other fraudsters out there that you will be caught, and made to pay back the benefits you have illegally claimed.”

The couple were prosecuted jointly by Croydon Council’s anti-fraud team, Tandridge District Council and the Department for Work and Pensions.

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