Conman who tried to steal from BBC's Rageh Omaar gets £5,500 council sick pay - while he's in JAIL

A convicted money launderer conned a council into giving him thousands of pounds in sick-leave pay despite being in jail over a £2.3million bank fraud.

Steven Fabian-Adekunle, 45, was imprisoned for two and a half years for his part in a gang which stole millions from bank customers, including one attempt on the account of BBC TV reporter Rageh Omaar.

Led by his nephew Oluwa Adekunle, the gang used bank insiders to steal the identities, codes and passwords of affluent account holders in a fraud lasting 12 months. They were eventually caught in a series of arrests between October 2005 and April 2006.

Rageh Omaar

BBC reporter Rageh Omaar was targeted by a gang of fraudsters

Fabian-Adekunle was remanded in custody in May 2006, ahead of the trial the following January. But rather than inform his bosses of his arrest and potential imprisonment, he instead claimed long-term sickness, meaning he would still be paid.

He received a total of £5,541 in wages as he kept up the pretence for five months, before police alerted the council that he was in custody. It is also understood that Fabian-Adekunle was over-claiming housing benefits during the same period.

Surprised officials stopped the wage payments, but two and a half years on officers are still trying to recover the money.

Fabian-Adekunle, a caretaker on a Lambeth Council housing estate, today denied he had done anything wrong and claimed his managers were aware of the situation.

Steven Fabian-Adekunle

Steven Fabian-Adekunle was sentenced to two and a half years

He said: 'I was off sick. My manager knew about it. I was interviewed when I came out of prison and my solicitors are now dealing with it.'

But Lambeth council rejected his claims, saying that although Fabian-Adekunle's line manager was aware he stopped coming to work on 25 May, 2006, it only became aware of the true reason for his absence on 19 October, 2006, five months later.

A council spokeswoman said: 'False information was provided in support of his claim to be off work due to illness. These wages amounted to £5,541.11. As soon as the police alerted us to the nature of this case, payment was stopped.

'Legal proceedings to recover the unearned wages are at an advanced stage and his housing benefits are under investigation.'

Fabian-Adekunle's gang were caught when staff at Omaar's branch of Barclays in west London reported receiving a phone call from a man purporting to be the broadcaster. The fraudster reeled off the journalist's bank details in an attempt to divert funds to another account.

But the manager became suspicious when he realised it was not Omaar's voice and refused the request.

Despite that failure the gang stripped 40 bank accounts and 13 internet accounts, laundering the proceeds using a group of car dealers. In May last year Fabian-Adenkunle was sentenced to two and a half years.

Lambeth councillor Andrew Sawdon said: 'It's shocking that this can go on undetected. What's more worrying is it is taking so long to get the money back.

'It took a long time to get all the details of his case and I want to know why it has taken so long and why it is still not resolved.'