A THURROCK council tax officer who abused his position and stole nearly Â£90,000 from residents’ council tax accounts was sentenced to two years and eight months.
Kevin Brown, 35 (21.01.81) of Hawkins Drive, Chafford Hundred in Essex had previously pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position and conspiring to commit money laundering. He also asked for three other offences to be taken into consideration.
Brown was sentenced at Wood Green Crown Court on Tuesday, 30 August.
Between July 2013 and June 2016, Brown used employment agencies to apply for roles as a council tax officer.
Whilst employed by these agencies at several council tax departments, Brown identified residents’ council tax accounts that were in credit. He arranged for fake emails and phone calls in the names of the genuine council tax account holders to be sent into the department requesting any balance on the account to be paid to a third party.
Brown then used his position to authorise the payments, and the stolen money was paid into numerous third party bank accounts.
When the offending was first noticed in June 2015 by an Audit Investigator from the London Borough of Hackney, Brown resigned.
Police were informed and the investigation was passed to FALCON, the Met’s response to Fraud and Linked Crime Online.
It was found that despite two previous criminal convictions, Brown had found work via employment agencies at Dartford and Sevenoaks Council, Revenues and Benefits Partnership in Leicestershire and the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Brown then committed similar offences whilst working within these authorities.
FALCON officers worked in partnership with investigators from Kent Police and Leicester City Council in order to obtain sufficient evidence to charge Brown.
On Friday, 3 June, Brown was arrested, charged and remanded in custody. It was disclosed in court that Brown had two previous convictions for fraud by abuse of position of a similar nature.
Detective Constable Paul Allgood of FALCON, the Met’s response to Fraud and Linked Crime Online, said: "Our investigation showed that in many cases the stolen money had come from council tax accounts where the resident had died. Payments that should have made to bereaved families were instead diverted into accounts controlled by Brown. Families dealing with their loves ones’ financial matters applied for refunds and were told the money had already been paid out.
“Brown’s actions caused relatives of the deceased extra stress at a very difficult time and I am pleased that justice has now been served."