Council takes ten years to notice black woman isn’t white

PUBLISHED: 09:37 22 July 2015 | UPDATED: 16:03 22 July 2015

Bromley Civic Centre

Bromley Civic Centre


Former employee who impersonated Frenchwoman jailed

A former employee of Bromley Council fooled the authority for a decade by pretending she was white - when she was actually black.

Stephanie Okpaire claimed she was a Paris-born Frenchwoman called Stephanie Dole – but was actually born in Nigeria.

But she ended up with a jail sentence after the council finally realised what was happening after ten years.

Okpaire, 43, of Pontefract Road, Bromley, had provided a French identity card and a UK driving licence when she applied for the job in 2004.

But last year, when the council was performing checks, she provided a UK passport in the name of Stephanie Okpaire which said she was born in Nigeria.

She resigned after being unable to provide either her birth certificate or a full UK driving licence.

When the council checked with the French Consulate, the consulate provided a photograph of the real Stephanie Dole.

Okpaire, who was employed by the council between April 2005 and February 2015 and paid a total of £178,686, admitted theft by deception at Croydon Crown Court.

She also admitted four counts of housing benefit fraud, having wrongly claimed £11,432 between February 2000 and August 2006.

She was jailed for 15 months and ordered to pay £2,500 costs, and will also have to pay back the housing benefit.

Judge Tanzer described Okpaire as a “serial offender”.

Councillor Neil Reddin, chairman of Bromley’s audit committee, said: “We welcome the custodial sentence in this case.

“It not only reflects the seriousness of the fraud, but also that it was disappointingly perpetrated by a former member of staff.”

Anyone with information about benefit fraud should call the confidential fraud hotline on 0800 169 6975 or email

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Bromley Times. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Bromley Times