London

Grenfell Tower fraudster admits making up family deaths

Nguyen Image copyright PA
Image caption Nguyen met Prince Charles when he visited survivors

A serial conman has admitted pretending his family died in the Grenfell Tower fire to obtain about £12,500 from funds meant for victims.

Anh Nhu Nguyen claimed his wife and son were killed in the blaze.

He posed as a victim of the disaster for almost two weeks and was given the money by charities and Kensington and Chelsea Council.

The 52-year-old, of Beckenham, south-east London, pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The blaze on 14 June claimed the lives of at least 80 people

He admitted two counts of fraud by false representation and one count of making an untrue statement for the purpose of obtaining a passport.

Nguyen posed as a victim of the fire and shook the Prince of Wales' hand when he visited a relief centre set up in the wake of the disaster.

He claimed the fire had destroyed "everything" he owned, and that he was so upset about having lost his wife and son that he could not eat or concentrate.

Nguyen was given a hotel room, clothing, food, electrical items and money after posing as one of the survivors.

He was discovered to be a fake when he gave several different flat numbers, some of which did not exist and one where a real victim lived.

Nguyen showed no emotion as he entered his pleas through a translator.

He will be sentenced on 15 December.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Nguyen met the Prince of Wales at a relief centre set up in the wake of the disaster

Nguyen was born in Vietnam, and has been in the UK since the 1980s. He is a British citizen and has 17 aliases.

He has 28 previous convictions for 56 offences spanning more than 30 years, including theft, arson and grievous bodily harm.

Kate Mulholland from the Crown Prosecution Service said: "Nguyen's deceit in the aftermath of such a catastrophic loss of life was breathtaking.

"He was willing to lie again and again, adapting his story when it was questioned, in order to profit from the huge aid efforts and outpouring of sympathy for true victims."

Elizabeth Campbell, leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, said: "It is disgraceful.

"Fraud on any level directly and negatively impacts our efforts to give crucial help and support to the victims and survivors of the fire."

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