Grenfell fraudsters: Who are the people who falsely profited from the tragedy?

Grenfell fraudsters: Who are the people who falsely profited from the tragedy?

Saturday, September 22, 2018

A man pleaded guilty to Grenfell-related fraud on Friday, making him the eighth fraudster who profited from the tragedy to be exposed.

Abdelkarim Rekaya, 28, pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and obtaining leave to remain by deception at Isleworth Crown Court on September 21, having received aid and accommodation totalling £88,183.70.

He is the latest in a string of fraudsters who claimed to have lived in, or lost relatives in, the Grenfell Tower fire of June 14 last year.

 

Anh Nhu Nguyen

In February this year, Anh Nhu Nguyen, 52, was jailed for 21 months after pocketing around £12,500 from Kensington and Chelsea Council and charities.

He pretended his wife and son had died in the fire, and even gave interviews posing as a survivor.

Vietnamese-born Nguyen was a British citizen who'd lived in the UK since the Eighties. He had 17 aliases and a criminal record stretching back over 30 years, which included 28 convictions for crimes including theft, arson, grievous bodily harm and dishonesty.

His defence barrister said a psychological report found him to have an “astonishingly low” IQ and to suffer from depression.

 

Joyce Msokeri

In April, Joyce Msokeri, 47, was jailed for four-and-a-half years after pretending to have lost her husband in the blaze.

She claimed cash, goods and donations worth £19,000, and had even planned to claim on insurance after her non-existent husband’s death.

Msokeri had never lived in Grenfell Tower - she resided in Sutton, south London.

Her story became even more far-fetched when investigators began to close in. She told them her husband had been living in a cave in Margate and even tried to persuade a man with mental health issues to pose as her husband, so she could pretend he’d been found.

 

Mohammad Gamoota

In June, Mohammad Gamoota, 31, was jailed for 18 months after pretending to have lost his father.

He claimed that genuine fire victim Abdeslam Sebbar - with whom he had no connection - was his father, but incorrectly gave his name as Abdel Salam, after reading a report which misspelled Mr Sebbar's name. 

 

Elaine Douglas and Tommy Brooks

Jamaican nationals Elaine Douglas, 51, and Tommy Brooks, 52, were jailed the following month for three years and three years and three months respectively.

They claimed over £100,000 worth of support, including hotel accommodation and pre-paid credit cards, by pretending to have lived in the tower, and stayed in hotels for a year before council staff realised the flat they claimed to have lived in didn’t exist.

 

Derrick Peters

Derrick Peters, 58, was jailed for six years in August. He was put up in the Park Grand hotel in Paddington, west London, after claiming to have lost his friend and all his possessions.

He ran up a £40,000 bill while staying in the £192-a-night room, including more than £5,000 spent on food, drink and laundry.

His story unravelled after Rebecca Ross, a Grenfell survivor whose father Steve Power perished in the fire, confirmed Peters had not lived with them and their three dogs as he had claimed.

 

Jenny McDonagh

That same month, former finance manager for Kensington and Chelsea Council Jenny McDonagh, 39, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud, one of theft and one of concealing criminal property.

She took £62,000 from the victims’ fund and spent it on trips to Dubai and Los Angeles, expensive dinners and online gambling.

Prosector Robert Simpson called her a "serial fraudster" at the hearing. He said she was also under investigation for suspected fraud against her former employers, the Medway NHS Trust in Kent and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. 

She was sentenced to five and a half years in jail in September.

 

Antonio Gouveia

Gouveia was jailed in September this year, and handed a sentence of three years and two months. 

He had claimed to have lived with a woman on the 7th floor in Flat 42, but she later told officers that nobody apart from herself, her partner and her daughter had ever lived there. 

Gouveia, 33,  fraudulently obtained money, a laptop and accommodation. He told officers he had been homeless before the tragedy, and visited the Westway centre near Grenfell Tower with the intention of volunteering, but got 'swept up' in hgis fraud after someone assumed he was a Grenfell survivor. 

 

Yonatan Eyob

In September 2018, Eyob, 26, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to three years and four months’ imprisonment for fraudulently claiming over £80,000 in assistance meant for Grenfell survivors. 

He had lived next to the tower at the nearby Hurstway Walk, but pretended to have lived in the tower to claim hotel accommodation and money. 

When officers went to his hotel room, they found substantial quantities of Class A and B drugs: over 120 wraps of MDMA, 89 wraps of cocaine, 30 wraps of Ketamine and 17 wraps of cannabis.

Detective Superintendent Matt Bonner called his case 'ironic', because he would have genuinely qualified for some assistance due to living close to the tower.

 

Abdelkarim Rekaya

Rekaya, 28, pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and obtaining leave to remain by deception at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday (September 21).

In the wake of the fire in June 2017, Rekaya said he was a resident in the tower and had been present on the night of the devastating blaze.

He was given hotel accommodation and financial support totalling £88,183.70, before being housed and living rent-free until July this year.

An investigation found that he did not live in Grenfell Tower, and he was arrested on June 7, and charged the following day.
 

Mohammed Syed Rinku

In October, 46-year-old Rinku was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for fraud totalling £5070.26, and 11 months for seeking leave to remain, to run concurrently.

He claimed that he had been living in Grenfell Tower and in a relationship with the flat's real occupant. Rinku was in the UK illegally, and applied for leave to remain in the UK under the Grenfell Survivors Immigration Policy.

He was arrested in September after investigators uncovered his lies. 

 

Koffi Kouakou

Weeks after Rinku's sentencing, 53-year-old Kouakou, from Chelsea, was sentenced to four years in jail.

Similarly to Rinku, he said he had been living in a flat in Grenfell Tower and having a relationship with its occupant, and received over £30,000 in accommodation and financial assistance.

He had not lived in the tower, or been in a relationship with the occupant he claimed to have been. 

 

Sharife Elouahabi

Between June 23 last year and June 25 this year, Elhouabi claimed £103,475.60 worth of accommodation and financial help.

He said he had been staying at a 21st-floor flat in the tower, but was found to have been living elsewhere in Kensington with no connection to Grenfell Tower at all.

He was in line to receive a further £14,730 before his crime was discovered.

He pleaded guilty in November and will be sentenced on November 20.

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