A Croydon fraudster who pretended his dad died in the Grenfell Tower tragedy to get a free hotel room and money has been jailed.
Mohammad Gamoota, 31, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to two fraud charges at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday (June 1).
Gamoota claimed he had been living on the 24th floor of the tower with his dad, who he pretended had died in the devastating fire.
In reality he was living with his mum in Croydon and his dad was living abroad.
To make his fraud more convincing, Gamoota researched a newspaper article about one of the 71 real victims of the fire, and used their name and details – pretending they were his dad – to make his claims for free hotel accommodation and cash sound more convincing.
He also made internet searches using the words “Grenfell Tower Fraud”.
Gamoota was able to receive £500 in cash, although he had applied for £5,000.
He also received £910 worth of free hotel accommodation over nine days, and a £354 room service bill.
After people became suspicious, Gamoota disappeared but was later identified by a social worker in an identification procedure.
He was also captured on CCTV collecting emergency relief money from a post office, leading to his arrest on October 17, 2017.
Kate Mulholland, of the London CPS Complex Casework Unit, said: “People who are moved to give money to charity expect it to reach the real victims, especially in such a tragedy as the Grenfell Tower fire which took so many lives and affected so many people.
“When someone sets out to lie to access that money it is only right that justice is done and seen to be done.
“Our prosecution was able to prove that Mohammad Gamoota pretended he had lived in the Grenfell Tower fire to get cash and free accommodation, when he really lived with his mother in Croydon.
“He searched online news articles to discover the name of an elderly man who perished in the fire and then claimed that man was his father who he had lived with.
“When suspicions were aroused and he knew he could not keep up his lie, Gamoota disappeared but the prosecution was able to link him back to the fraud.
“Post office CCTV footage showing Gamoota collecting money from the counter, as well as messages and searches on his phone, led to these guilty pleas.”
Detective Superintendent Matt Bonner, the senior investigating officer for Operation Northleigh, said: “I have previously described the actions of those who exploited the tragedy for their own personal gain as truly appalling.
“Not only have their actions exploited the aid and support intended for those most affected, but they also risk misrepresenting the Grenfell community as they continue to try and come to terms with their grief.
“My thoughts remain with the Grenfell community at this difficult time, the genuine victims who should continue to be at the heart and centre of all we do.”
Gamoota admitted fraud between June 14, 2017, and July 29, 2017, relating to money from Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
He also admitted fraud between the same dates, relating to accommodation with untrue representations made to Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.