Grenfell Tower conman admits lying to claim charity cash

Emma Woollacott
Tower block fire in London
Tower block fire in London

A serial conman with dozens of previous convictions has admitted claiming that his wife and son died in the Grenfell Tower fire to scam a compensation fund out of thousands.

Anh Nhu Nguyen, 52, was given around £12,500 in money and goods from charities and the local council after claiming that he'd become separated from his family while escaping the blaze. This included a hotel room, clothing, food and electrical items.

See also: Scam alert over fake Grenfell Tower fundraisers

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He gave several television interviews in the days following the fire, claiming he'd lost everything he owned in the fire, and was even pictured with Prince Charles.

In fact, however, Nguyen had neither a wife or children and had never lived in the tower or anywhere near it.

He was caught out after giving several different flat numbers - some of which didn't exist.

Tower block fire in London
Tower block fire in London

"At one point he claimed to have lived in a flat where the sole occupant had died. He also gave TV interviews in which he described the harrowing experience of escaping from the flat he had lived in for 20 years and losing his wife and son," Kate Mulholland, from the Crown Prosecution Service, told Southwark Crown Court.

"CCTV showed that the day after the fire he was at a housing charity nine miles away in Whitechapel appearing happy and light hearted, and his mobile phone was located at his home in Beckenham."

Born in Vietnam, Nguyen has British citizenship and has lived in the UK since the 1980s. He has 28 previous convictions for 56 offences, including theft, arson and grievous bodily harm.

Nguyen yesterday admitted two counts of fraud by false representation and one count of making an untrue statement for the purpose of obtaining a passport. He will be sentenced on 15 December.

"This defendant succeeded in achieving money out of the misery and tragedy of people who, unlike this defendant if he pleads guilty, genuinely suffered by this terrible fire," commented Judge Philip Bartle.

Elizabeth Campbell, leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, has warned that any other fraudsters will receive the same treatment.

"I want to make it clear - if you are fraudulently claiming money that is for the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, authorities will be tracking you, you will be found, and you will be prosecuted," she said.