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Jailed: Rush Green man who conned charity out of £100k sub-letting flats in Canning Town

PUBLISHED: 12:00 06 October 2020

Gael Ikobonga of Rush Green Road, Romford was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Monday, October 5, to 28 months’ in prison for fraud by abuse of position. Picture: MPS

Gael Ikobonga of Rush Green Road, Romford was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Monday, October 5, to 28 months’ in prison for fraud by abuse of position. Picture: MPS

Archant

A man who conned a housing charity out of £100,000 to feed his gambling habit has been jailed.

Gael Ikobonga of Rush Green Road, Romford was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Monday, October 5, to 28 months in prison for fraud by abuse of position after sub-letting flats in Canning Town.

Acting-Det Insp Martin Enever, from the north east economic crime command, said: “Ikobonga stole money from a charity that helps those in need to fuel his gambling addiction with not a thought of the impact his actions would have.

“Employee fraud is a serious offence which the Met is committed to investigating. Employers can help by always remaining vigilant and reporting any suspicious activity to Action Fraud.”

Ikobonga worked as a tenancy services manager for housing company Mears which leased properties on behalf of a charity that, as part of its services, provides homes for people in need of help.

The 32-year-old marked several of the properties as “returned to landlord” at the block of flats which he was responsible for.

This meant they were neither occupied nor rented. He went on to sub-let them privately and pocket the rent for himself. He even moved into one of the flats with his girlfriend.

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He signed contracts with the unsuspecting tenants using the company’s headed paper, but provided his personal bank account details for the rent payments.

Analysis of his bank statements revealed rent payments from four of the properties between January 2016 and November 2018. He also lived rent free in his property for two years.

In total, Ikobonga collected about £100,000. Transactions on his bank account showed the majority of the money was spent feeding his gambling habit.

Ikobonga was arrested on October 23, 2018, following an investigation by detectives from the central specialist crime command.

He was charged on February 1 this year. On February 21, he pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court.

A spokesperson from Mears said: “As soon as Mears Group suspected fraudulent behaviour the police were informed, and we assisted with their investigations.

“We are pleased with the results of the case. Anyone who abuses their position, and the trust of residents deserves to be held account with the full force of the law.”

He added a review of procedures has followed and extra measures are in place to prevent it happening again.

Visit actionfraud.police.uk/ or call 0300 123 2040.


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