Grenfell fraudster who posed as resident to claim £100k from survivor fund is jailed for six years

Sharife Elouahbi, 38, tricked council officials into handing him money from the disaster fund set up following the West London blaze that claimed 72 lives.

After pocketing £103,000, he was due to receive further resettlement payments worth £14,730 towards a flat and free utilities before the con was discovered.

The career criminal claimed to be living with the El-Wahabi family in flat 182.

Faouzia, 42, and Abdulaziz El-Wahabi, 52, died alongside their children, Yasin, 20, Huda, 16, and Mehdi, on the 21st floor.

One of the children was known to Elouahbi but he was not a member of the family.

Elouahbi told council workers he was out breaking his Ramadan fast at the time of the inferno on June 14 last year, Isleworth Crown Court heard.

He told them that when he came back he tried to get back into the burning tower but was restrained by police officers.

Elouahbi was given £300 a week to buy food and was put up in three different hotels due to being kicked out of the first two for breaking hotel rules.

He is the 13th cruel fraudster to be convicted over Grenfell Tower disaster frauds — and claimed the most amount of money dishonestly.

A further 16 people are either charged or are under investigation for swindling funds.

Judge Robin Johnson told him: "Your offending is what has come to be known as a Grenfell fraud — this involved obtaining benefits of over £100,000.

"In the aftermath of a tragedy, you sought and received profit and attempted to obtain permanent property advantages over others.

"The facts of the Grenfell Tower tragedy are well known, the effect on those who died, their families and friends, cannot be imagined by those who were not directly affected.

"The fact that the unscrupulous sought to enrich themselves with accommodation, services and money is the more shocking in the light of the outpouring of grief and sympathy that followed the disaster."

Elouahbi  has 28 previous convictions for 54 offences including robbery, assault and handling stolen goods.

A statement from Abdulaziz's sister Hanan El-Wahabi read: "This fraud has just added to the pain.

"His actions are a stain on all those who died in the terrible incident and the effort of all those people who have tried to assist genuine victims.

"We had enough on our plate as it was."

She added that Elouahbi had used the similarity between their names to carry out the fraud.

Ms El-Wahabi said: "I am a survivor and a bereaver.

"I lost my brother his wife and their three children.

"In committing this fraud the defendant has taken from the funds meant for the genuine victims of the fire.

"These actions have caused me sleepless nights and to take time off work."

Elouahbi, of Grove House, Manor Street, Chelsea, admitted fraud and was jailed for six years.

DC Ben Rouse, who led the investigation, said: "This was a substantial fraud, made all the more deplorable by the fact that it was committed in the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, with the money set aside to help those directly affected by the tragedy.

"He shamelessly took advantage of the efforts to rehouse people whose homes had been destroyed by claiming his link to one of the flats, and he was subsequently put in hotel accommodation.

"Further investigations revealed that he had not even lived in the tower.

"This is the latest in what is sadly a long line of Grenfell-related frauds.

"We will continue to investigate and where appropriate prosecute anyone who is financially profiting from the Grenfell fire, and taking away resources and support for the true victims."

The total amount involved in Grenfell scams so far adds up to more than £650,000.

In September council worker Jenny McDonagh, 39, was jailed for five-and-a-half years over her Grenfell scam.

She stole prepaid credit cards meant to help surviving residents of the doomed block in North Kensington.

Callous McDonagh then used them on a £62,000 spending spree, treating herself to shoes, clothes, a foot-long sex toy and trips to Los Angeles, Dubai, Iceland and Paris.

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