Woman prosecuted by Barnet Council for false homelessness claim

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A woman who claimed she was homeless but actually owned a property has been prosecuted for fraud.

Davina Gopala, 32, pleaded guilty to fraud at Willesden Magistrates Court on Tuesday and was sentenced to a 12-month community punishment order, which includes 50 hours of unpaid work. She was also ordered to pay £800 for legal costs.

Barnet Borough Council’s corporate action fraud team and Barnet Homes brought the prosecution after the council’s housing option service noticed discrepancies on Gopala’s application when she presented herself homeless to Barnet Homes in October 2011.

She had declared on the application form that she rented a property in Wood Green but background checks with the Land Registry revealed that she in fact owned the property.

Gopala told the council that she required accommodation because she and her daughter were living with her mother in an overcrowded property.

The prosecution follows the several council reclamations after a month-long key amnesty in October resulted in 17 sets of keys being handed back by landlords illegally sub-letting property.

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