LONDON: Fraudsters have stolen more than US$1 million from funds intended for survivors of a deadly 2017 fire in a British residential tower block, police said yesterday.
The blaze that engulfed Grenfell Tower in London killed 71 people, the worst domestic fire in Britain since World War II.
Seventeen people have now been convicted of fraud, taking the total misappropriated to £877,465.
Alvin Thompson, 51, became the seventeenth person found guilty after he said he had been sleeping rough in the 24-storey tower and claimed £95,706 worth of financial handouts, hotel and housing costs.
He was found guilty of two counts of fraud and sentenced to five years and six months for the first count and four years for the second count, with the two sentences to be served concurrently.
He claimed he had been sleeping rough in the tower for two years but investigators linked him to an address in north London.
He claimed he helped people escape and had suffered from survivor’s guilt and flashbacks of stepping over bodies to escape.
Security camera footage did not capture him either fleeing the fire or entering the tower at any point in the two weeks leading up to the fire.
“Thompson’s behaviour was despicable. He showed complete disregard for the suffering of those who lost their lives, and their families,” said Detective Constable Lisa Cook.
“Anyone who attempts to profit from the tragedy that occurred at Grenfell Tower can expect to be punished.”