A fraudster who sold forged University documentation so people could avoid having to pay council tax has been jailed for 18 months.

Sakiru Oresanwo, 34, provided 38 false certificates which enabled 23 people to claim to be full-time students and therefore not need to pay council tax.

Oresanwo used headed paper from the University of Sunderland’s London campus, where he was then employed as a finance assistant, and from his former employer, the EThames Graduate School in Ilford, to trick eight different councils in his £45,000 tax scam.

When he was arrested, enough headed paper was found to create certificates with a potential to swindle between £1million to £3million of council tax.

Oresanwo was caught after a member of Greenwich Council's tax team queried a student certificate provided by Natasha Mapp, 34, which was supposedly issued by the EThames Graduate School.

She later provided a replacement certificate purportedly issued by the University of Sunderland’s London campus which was signed by Oresanwo.

Further investigation into certificates supposedly issued by he EThames Graduate School were able to be traced back to Oresanwo who was living in Little Brights Road in Belvedere.

Greenwich investigators found a holdall containing 850 sheets of blank headed paper from the EThames Graduate School and over 100 sheets from the University of Sunderland at his home, along with office stamps from both organisations.

Oresanwo resigned from his post at the University of Sunderland’s London campus in February 2016, shortly after his arrest.

He pleaded guilty at Woolwich Crown Court on January 31 to four offences of fraud including one of possession of articles for use in fraud.

Councillor Maureen O’Mara, from Greenwich Council, said: “Mr Oresanwo abused his position as a finance assistant and set out to defraud not only the Royal Borough of Greenwich but several other Local Authorities of much needed Council Tax revenue.

“Had it not been for the Royal Greenwich Council Tax staff member suspecting the student certificate was false and the excellent detective work by our investigators to bring this case to Court, many Local Authorities would have stood to lose a substantial loss of income.”

“I am pleased that the majority of the monies defrauded have now been repaid and that the only thing gained from this despicable crime against the public purse is a jail sentence for Mr Oresanwo and a criminal record for 9 others.”

Also pleaded guilty to fraud and sentenced were:

• Natasha Mapp, of Belvedere, whose false student certificate sparked the initial investigation. She was given a 12 month community order with 80 hours unpaid work.

• Segun Efunsiyan, 31, of Dartford, was sentenced to 10 months in prison suspended for two years and a community order with 200 hours unpaid work.

• Dorothy Nakawombe, 38, of Belvedere, was given a 12 month community order with 60 hours unpaid work

• Christina Shin-Aba, 28, of Belvedere, was given a 12 month community order with 80 hours unpaid work

• Nzuzi Manduakila, 34, of Thamesmead, was given a 12 month community order with 120 hours unpaid work.