Siblings cashing in on a sister’s death and a man hiding £44,000 in a shed while claiming benefits were among cases of fraud totalling £700,000 uncovered by Greenwich Council over the past year.

The authority was successful in dealing with 46 false claims, found following investigations into housing benefit, council tax and income support. Its efforts resulted in 18 prosecutions.

Among the crimes uncovered were two women who used the identity of their dead sister to get a council home before going on to fraudulently purchase a property in the royal borough under the Right To Buy scheme.

The pair received a suspended prison sentence and were ordered to repay £60,000.

In another case a benefit claimant hid £44,000 in cash in his garden shed, but was rumbled when police found the money during a raid at his home.

A judge subsequently ordered him to pay the council £28,000 to cover the fraud, with the police confiscating the remainder.

The authority’s cabinet member for customer services Cllr Maureen O’Mara said: “The council has a very high success rate catching those whose actions ultimately cost us all.

“Pursuing fraudsters often involves complex and lengthy work but we will catch and punish anyone who commits fraud against the royal borough of Greenwich .

“As ever, we need people to be vigilant and keep reporting any suspected cases to our teams so we can take action and get this money back – to direct it towards areas most in need.”