'Deplorable' Grenfell fraud claimed more than £100,000 by pretending he lived with victims

Sharife Elouahabi lied about living in Grenfell Tower (Met Police)

A man who falsely claimed that he lived with a family in the Grenfell Tower claimed more than £100,000 in accommodation and financial benefits intended for victims of the fire.

Sharife Elouahabi pleaded guilty to fraud after claiming he was staying in a flat on the 21st floor of the tower where a family is known to have died during the deadly blaze.

He claimed a total of £103,475.60 between 23 June 2017 and 25 June 2018.

Elouahabi was due to receive another payment of £14,730 to pay for a flat and free utilities before the fraud was discovered.

Smoke and flames rise from the Grenfell Tower. (AP Images)

His defence counsel, Graeme Wilson, said Elouahabi did stay in flat 182 on a couple of occasions as he knew one of the residents in that flat which was home to the El-Wahabi family.

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

Mr Wilson said Elouahabi would have considered himself to be “close friends” with Yasin and had stayed in the flat for a couple of nights in January and March 2017.

Mr Wilson said the defendant was “sofa surfing” at the time.

Officers discovered he had no links to Grenfell Tower, and was living at another address in Kensington, London.

Grenfell Tower pictured with its protective covering (Getty Images)

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.

“Elhouhabi 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.”