Birmingham City Council has supported the successful prosecution of a former housing officer for fraud.
Zara Danyaal, aged 36, of Warwick Road, Acocks Green, and a former senior housing needs officer for Birmingham City Council, was today (24 June) jailed for three years for fraud at Birmingham Crown Court alongside her sister, Samara Malik, aged 28, of Wetherby Road, Acocks Green who was jailed for ten months.
Danyaal sentenced comprised 30 months’ for one count relating to social housing fraud and six months’ for two offences relating to job references.
Malik’s sentence comprised one count related to social housing fraud.
Cllr Peter Griffiths, Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for Housing and Homes, said: “We welcome today’s sentence which recognises the severity of the crime committed.
“Danyaal committed an act of fraud and in so doing also prevented several families from being housed. Birmingham City Council has been proactive from the start in pursuing and bringing the perpetrators of this fraud to justice. Furthermore, all the properties obtained by the deception have now been recovered so that they can be let to citizens who are in genuine need of social housing.
Cllr Griffiths continued: “Birmingham City Council is committed to protecting the public funds it is entrusted with. In these times of austerity, the minimisation of losses to fraud and corruption is even more important to ensure that resources are used to provide essential services for citizens.
“Our counter fraud team uses sophisticated data analysis to detect fraud and anyone who commits, or attempts to commit, fraudulent or corrupt acts against the council will be held to account in a decisive manner.”
In 2014, council officer identified serious concerns relating to the role of Senior Housing Needs Officer Zara Danyaal, in the homeless application process. Following this, she was suspended from work and an internal audit investigation was instigated.
The investigation confirmed these concerns and identified that Danyaal had submitted and processed six fraudulent homeless applications between 2011 and 2013, three of which resulted in tenancies being awarded. She perpetuated the frauds using fabricated identities and personal information relating to herself and her mother.
The audit investigation concluded that Danyaal may have committed a criminal act and had fundamentally breached the council’s staff Code of Conduct. Disciplinary proceedings subsequently resulted in her dismissal from the council.
Criminal proceedings were also initiated by Birmingham City Council and both Zara Danyaal and her sister Samara Malik (not a council employee) appeared at Birmingham Magistrates Court on 29