Seven Kings benefit fraud sisters’ £183k housing scam

Snaresbrook Crown Court Pic: John Stillwell/PA

Snaresbrook Crown Court Pic: John Stillwell/PA - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

Two sisters who raked in £183,000 in a six-year housing benefit scam could face jail.

Deepa Dippita-Hewage, 47, and Kumudu Mendis, 46, of Colenso Road, Seven Kings, conned Redbridge Council by making fraudulent claims between 2007 and 2013.

They claimed to be living in privately rented accommodation while staying for free in their relatives’ homes.

The two women, who moved house several times during the period, were due to stand trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Monday along with their husbands, Bandula Dippita-Hewage and Sumeda Mendis. But they both pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by false representation before a jury could be sworn.

The court heard Dippita-Hewage received an overpayment of just over £83,000, while Mendis netted £91,000 from the fraud.

Sumeda Mendis, who is currently in a Sri Lankan prison, is alleged to have made around £10,000 in the scam.

A further count of conspiracy to commit fraud against both women was left to lie on file.

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The prosecution dropped its case against Bandula Dippita-Hewage, offering no evidence on one count of conspiracy to defraud, and on two counts of aiding and abetting his brother and sister-in-law to commit fraud. The Crown Prosecution Service has yet to decide how to proceed with his case.

Adjourning sentence until March 6, Judge Richard Carey-Hughes said: “These are serious offences and a lot of money is involved, and I make it clear to you that all sentencing options, including that of sending you to prison, are going to be open.”

The three defendants, who all live at the same address, were each aided by a separate Sinhalese interpreter. They were granted unconditional bail until the next hearing.