Luton Borough Council fell victim to a fraud scheme and lost over £30,000 after being targeted by con artists who sent a fake email, Luton Crown Court was told.
The perpetrators requested that the council pay a contractor’s bill of nearly £45,000, but the bank details they provided belonged to a woman in London.
The scam was only discovered when the genuine contractor asked why their invoice had not been paid.
Azeezah Sule-Onosipe, who resides in Charlton, London, was found to have received the money and used it to clear £3,055.29 of credit card debt, sent £13,300 overseas, and transferred £18,000 to Santander accounts belonging to other people.
She pleaded guilty to transferring criminal property and removing criminal property.
During her defense, Ciara Mcelvogue claimed that Sule-Onosipe was vulnerable and had been taken advantage of by a male friend. The accused had been suffering from post-traumatic stress and had been taking medication for anxiety and depression.
Sentencing Sule-Onosipe, Judge Steven Evans acknowledged that there was a financial advantage for her in the crime, but also noted that she was not the prime mover in the fraud scheme. He further commented that taxpayers’ money had gone abroad, and the council lost £33,000. A total of £11,000 was frozen and recovered.
The judge sentenced Sule-Onosipe to a 12-month community order, which includes attending 20 rehabilitation days and carrying out 70 hours of unpaid work, as well as paying £600 in costs.