A 46-year-old Grays man was sentenced to two years in prison after being convicted on eight charges of benefit fraud on Wednesday (15 December).
Olouwole Oso — also known as pastor David Oso — of Elmway, had denied all the charges which related to false and forged documents being used to obtain nearly £38,000 of housing and council tax benefits over five years.
Basildon Crown Court heard Oso had created a false identity in the name of Sigismund Wealth using a forged passport in order to buy a property. He then created a false tenancy agreement between “Mr Wealth” and himself in order to get the benefit, claiming to be Wealth’s tenant.
When the house was about to be re-possessed, he created another false identity, Caroline Johnson, again using a forged passport in an attempt to transfer the property into her name.
He also created a bogus company which provided wage slips to support his claim he was only working 16 hours a week. He failed to declare that his wife, Rebecca, was living with him throughout the period of his claim, maintaining that she had left him and his five children.
The fraud was first brought to Thurrock Council’s benefit investigation team by council tax officers after they made a routine check.
Oso had told the court he was a pastor, known in his church as David Oso, who would not lie.
Following the jury’s guilty verdicts, Judge Lodge described Oso as “a man who is dishonest to the core”, saying his crime was fraudulent from the outset, professionally planned, carried out over a period of time and using false identities to commit multiple frauds.
Oso was sentenced to two years imprisonment on each indictment, to be served concurrently; the first 12 months to be served in prison, the second year to be spent on licence.
After passing sentence the judge commended Thurrock Council’s investigation officers as well as prosecuting counsel, saying: “This case could have been complex, haphazard and unclear. It was not, because of the way that the case was investigated, prepared and prosecuted.”