Fraudster sentenced over Right to Buy false claims

A man has been given a suspended jail sentence after twice fraudulently attempting to purchase a council house under the Right to Buy scheme to claim discounts of more than £78,000 each time.

Gary Waller, 59, from Preston Park, Brighton, was convicted of two counts of fraud by false representation relating to Right to Buy applications for £78,600 in April 2017 and for £80,900 in October 2018. The Right to Buy scheme allows tenants to purchase their council home at a reduced cost.  

Waller was claiming he lived in the three-bedroom house in Elphick Road, Newhaven, when he applied to buy the property in 2017, and again in 2018.  

He claimed he was a tenant, stating he was living in the council property as his only or principal home, but had been living at various other addresses in Sussex for some time.

The false declarations and abandonment of the property were discovered by Lewes District Council’s counter fraud team, which undertook a thorough investigation of the case including covert surveillance of Waller that proved he was not living at Elphick Road.  

Last Monday (April 25) at Lewes Crown Court, Waller was sentenced to two 24-month jail terms to run concurrently – these were suspended for 24 months. He is also required to complete 40 hours of unpaid work within 12 months, pay a victim surcharge order and full prosecution costs of £15,887 to be paid within two years at a rate of £662 per month.

In passing sentence, the Judge, Recorder Sims, noted that an aggravating factor in these offences was the impact of his fraudulent behaviour on those in need of council housing.

Councillor William Meyer, Cabinet member for Housing at Lewes District Council, said: “This case should be a deterrent to others who may think that fraud is a victimless crime and is a chance worth taking – it is not, this is money that would have come from the public purse.    

“Our counter fraud team carried out excellent work to gather all the evidence needed for conviction and we will continue to do all we can prosecute people who commit this kind of fraud.  

“We remain the owner of the property in question and I am delighted that it is now home to a family with a genuine housing need.”  

To report housing fraud anonymously visit lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk/housing-fraud or phone 0800 731 7039.