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20 Oct 2017

"Illiterate" benefit thief wrote facebook post

A mother described as illiterate scammed £60,000 in welfare after claiming she couldn't understand benefit forms - but celebrated escaping a prison sentence by writing a Facebook post. (h/t Dave)

Susan Williams, 47, who said said she couldn't read or write because she left school, pretended to be a carer for her father, who was actually living in a care home.

Over a six year period, Williams pocked benefit payments for income support while raking in more cash while working as a carer - even submitting a fake national insurance number to mask her identity.

She escaped prison and was handed a suspended jail sentence by a judge who praised her for showing 'some remorse' after 'finding herself in a difficult situation'.

Hours after, Williams took to Facebook to express her gratitude at avoiding jail by writing a lengthy status praising the kindness of her sister and describing the love of her son as her 'rock'. She signed it off saying: 'Escaped jail today. Nearly got me self 18 months me self 18 months **** that no more stupid sh*t for me.'

Earlier, the court heard Williams, 47, from Moston in Manchester, had dishonestly claimed carer's allowance and income support over a six year period, failing to inform the DWP when she started work.

She started legitimately claiming income support as a single mother in 1999 but took up employment as a carer after giving her bosses as a fake national insurance number.

She was pocketing care allowances by caring for her father Bernard but then carried out claiming them after he moved into a residential home.

Prosecutor Hugh Edwards told the court that she didn't have the means to pay back the £59,945 that she had taken, and the DWP were going to be taking civil action.

Mr Edwards said: 'In February 1999 she claimed income support when she was the single and cared for her two children. She later became the carer for her father Bernard Williams in December 2008. But she failed to notify the DWP of changes in her circumstance.

'Her initial claim for carer's allowance was a legitimate one when she started caring for her father in 2008, but he was then taken into a residential home in December 2010 and no longer needed her care. She failed to notify the DWP and continued to receive the carer's allowance.

'She was also in employment for Anne Hardman from the 5 April 2006 to the 3rd October 2010 as a carer. After a break she resumed her employment as Anne Hardman's carer on the 26 December 2011 and continued working for her until 13 May 2012.

'As an aside the defendant provided her employers with a false national insurance number. If this matter had gone to trial then it would be the prosecution case that she had deliberately misled her employers and the DWP to keep them from finding out about her employment.

'She was invited in for an interview on December 10 2014 and during that interview she denied working for Anne Hardman. She accepted that he father had been in a residential care home but she claimed that it was in 2012 which was wrong.

'She claimed that she continued to see her father and take him out from the care home and look after him so as a result she felt she was still entitled to the carer's allowance. As a result of that claim a statement was taken from the residential home her father was in and they confirmed that he had been in the care home since 2010 and he rarely left the home. They also confirmed that Miss Williams did visit her father often attending with Mrs Hardman and her husband.''

The court heard Williams' 13 previous offences on her record including dishonesty matters dating back to October 2000.

Defending Williams, Alistair Reid explained to the court her 16 year old daughter had just given birth to a baby and she would be helping with their care.

He added: 'The defendant has had problems in her life. Her father had to be moved between three different residential homes due to difficulties. Ms Williams took over the role of his carer from her brother and she did provide care for him.

'She did continue to care for him in more detail than is given in the statement from the care home. Her personal mitigation which doesn't excuse her not informing the DWP is that she has educational difficulties having left school at a very young age.

'She is effectively illiterate and the forms that had to be filled in were often done so by friends or family members.

'She does accept that she should have informed them of her change in circumstances. When she applied for the benefits she was entitled to them legitimately. She accepts that she should have told the DWP.

'With regards to the false national insurance number, if that matter had gone to trial then it would have been the defence's position that due to her difficulties with education there could have been a genuine error and it was not intentional.

'I think Ms Williams had a confused faith in the effectiveness of the detection system to identify errors more than the level that is usually expected. She has not been living a lavish lifestyle as a result of the money that she had been given. She accepts the offences that she has pleaded guilty to.

'She has been facing eviction from her current property and will be allowed to stay in there for 8 weeks until she finds somewhere new. She is having to offer additional support to her daughter and granddaughter. She is at a low risk of re-offending.'

Sentencing the judge Mr Recorder Robert Atherton said: 'I don't accept for a minute that you didn't know what you were doing, of course you knew what you were doing you knew what you were entitled to and what you were not when your circumstances changed.

'This went on for a very long time. Two of the charges are in relation to when you were working for Anne Hardman for four and a half years with a break of six months after that. You effectively stole £60,000. The benefits system is there to help people in difficulty and it depends on people being open and honest with the authorities. You were neither.

'You have shown some remorse and you find yourself in a difficult situation - but you have stolen from the community and you must give back to the community.''

Williams who pleaded guilty to benefit fraud was sentenced to 52 weeks in jail suspended for two years. She must also complete 250 hours unpaid work and complete a 12 months supervision order.

In her post on Facebook which she says: 'Love my life and my family.' Williams said: ''Thank u to my sister Jo JO and ste for standing by me for the last two days been my rock my Jo has thank god I AV a sister like her ❤️❤️God know wat I do without gher escape jail today it was the most scares thing I been threw in my life and only person that was there for me was my sister ❤️❤️Nearly got me self 18 months fck that no more stupid shit for me ❤️Love my son Barry for guidin me. he my world my son miss him loads.''

Source with uninteresting pictures

19 Oct 2017

Tax-dodging Bexhill madam jailed after retrial

A Bexhill mother who fraudulently claimed more than £37,000 in state benefits while running a 'high-class' escort agency has been jailed for three years at a retrial.

Mother-of-five, Janine Adeleke, 45, of Watermill Lane, was jailed immediately after the conclusion of a three-week trial at Canterbury Crown Court. At the trial Adeleke was found guilty of seven separate counts of fraud, including money laundering, cheating the public revenue, tax credits and benefit fraud. She was convicted after the jury retired for more than 10 and a half hours before returning guilty verdicts by 10-2.

The case was held as a retrial after the Court of Appeal ruled in December 2016 against a previous conviction of September 2015.

Prosecutor Mr Walker told the jury how Adeleke had been married but separated from her husband in 2006. "There followed a traumatic and bitter separation and there can be little doubt that as a consequence the defendant was left much less comfortably off. While claiming benefits she came to run a successful and expensive escort agency which boasted: 'VIP Models of poise, sophistication and stunning good looks for elite gentlemen'. The profits she made from this she never declared." The agency took a cut of 35 per cent from its workers, who were charging between £200 and £2,000 an hour.

While passing the three year sentence, Judge Heather Norton said it would have been longer, but she was “bound by law not to pass a sentence greater than that previously handed down”. Adeleke will only be inside for a few weeks as she has already served nearly half the original sentence.

The judge described Adeleke's crimes as “quite simply breathtaking dishonesty on an extraordinary scale over a lengthy period of time” and said Adeleke’s evidence was “evasive, difficult to follow and contradictory”.

The case was brought to trial after an investigation led by the HMRC revealed that while Adeleke claimed to be unemployed for more than seven years she was in fact running Bexhill-based escort business, Carltons of London. According to investigators, the business claimed to offer ‘high class’ escort services, providing the “finest London escorts to gentlemen of distinction”.

Investigators found that Adeleke had stolen £212,000 in unpaid Income Tax, National Insurance Contributions and tax credits payments by declaring that she had no income. She also fraudulently claimed more than £37,000 in Income Support and other state benefits, and laundered £157,000 of illicit cash.

Investigators also uncovered evidence of lavish spending by Adeleke, with £103,000 spent on beauty treatments, leisure and holidays, and an additional £88,000 spent in high street stores. They also discovered more than £1.2 million had passed through her bank accounts, enabling Adeleke to splash out at least £120,000 on private schools between November 2006 and January 2014, including a school which charges up to £30,000 a year.

Assistant director of the HMRC Fraud Investigation Service Tim Clarke said: “Adeleke broke the law to fund a lavish lifestyle and privately educate her children. She defrauded vital public services and stole benefits designed to help struggling families. She pleaded poverty, but this was far from the truth. She didn’t declare her income because she didn’t want to pay any tax. But she did want to claim state benefits, which are meant to support people on low incomes, and she certainly wasn’t entitled to receive them. As a further deception to hide her income, when Adeleke discovered she was being investigated, she laundered £157,000 through her elderly mother's bank account. Working with our investigation partners at the DWP, and linking benefit claims with tax records, our teams can identify if a claimant is lying about their work and benefit status. But our investigations don’t end when a criminal is convicted, and we are now working to reclaim the money Adeleke stole.”

HMRC say confiscation proceedings have started to reclaim the money stolen by Adeleke.

Source and source

Bradford counter-fraud team wins award

Investigators who battle fraud across the district have scooped a national award.

Bradford Council’s corporate fraud team investigates fraud against the authority, from disability ‘blue badge’ cheats to thieves who steal Council property.

The team has now won an award for excellence in counter-fraud at this year’s Institute of Revenues, Ratings and Valuation conference.

Over the last two years, the team has carried out more than 1,000 investigations, identified losses of more than £2m and applied 271 prosecutions or sanctions. The team also investigates social housing fraud such as illegal subletting, and has recovered 20 properties in this two-year period.

Bradford Council’s chief executive, Kersten England, said the counter-fraud team did “excellent work”.  She said: “I am delighted that we have received this award in recognition of our robust systems and the vision and hard work of the team.”

Source

18 Oct 2017

Tenancy fraud & right to buy fraud in Bassetlaw

A Bassetlaw A1 Housing tenant who was living and studying overseas for a number of years has been booted out of the property in a crackdown which has seen three fraudulent tenancies terminated.

An investigation was launched after the A1 Housing tenant applied to buy the property through the Right to Buy scheme - but it was suspected that it was not their main property.

It emerged that the tenant was "spending a considerable amount of time outside of the UK" and that they had been "living and attending university abroad for the majority of their time over a number of years".

Joint investigations by Bassetlaw District Council’s Fraud Investigations Team and A1 Housing - who manage the council's housing stock - uncovered the case and two other cases of tenancy fraud. All three resulted in voluntary terminations of the tenancies.

In the second case, the investigation team uncovered evidence that suggested a tenant was subletting their property. At an interview under caution the tenant admitted that their family had not been living at the property for the last 18 months.

And in the third case, housing officers had suspicions that the male tenant was subletting when, during a routine visit, only women's belongings could be seen in the flat. After initially denying the fraud, the tenant terminated the tenancy and returned the keys to A1 Housing.

Cllr Steve Scotthorne, cabinet member for Housing at Bassetlaw District Council, said: “Tenancy Fraud is illegal and deprives genuine tenants access to a home they may desperately need. The Council’s investigation team and A1 Housing will look closely into any suspicious circumstances and will not hesitate to recover a property, or pursue a criminal prosecution, should they find someone guilty of committing benefit fraud.”

None of the three tenants resulted in criminal prosecutions.

Tenancy cheats can face a fine of up to £50,000 and a prison sentence of up to two years if they are caught committing fraud. But the council says that should tenants voluntarily return the property back to them, they will not face any further legal action.

Tenancy fraud can include unlawfully subletting your property, dishonestly applying for a council property using someone else’s details or false information, continuing to live in a property if that person passes away and you do not have succession rights, or using someone else’s tenancy rights to put in a Right to Buy application.

Source

17 Oct 2017

Jail for £85k benefit fraud belatedly discovered

A MOTHER who failed to declare her disabled son had died and fraudulently claimed more than £85,000 in benefits for six years after his death has been jailed.

Leeds Crown Court heard 64-year-old Anne-Marie Turrall was full-time carer for her son Matthew, who was born in March 1984 and suffered from a number of mental and physical disabilities.

She had been legitimately claiming carers allowance because she provided at least 35 hours care a week for her son. The court heard she had also initially legitimately claimed incapacity benefit and disability living allowance on his behalf.

But she failed to notify the Department of Work and Pensions after Matthew died aged 22 in September 2006 while on a trip to visit his father in Cyprus.

Prosecutor, Ben Thomas, said the benefits continued to be paid to Turrall from September 2006 to October 2012.

Turrall’s fraud was exposed in 2012 after an investigation was launched when incapacity benefit was phased out and replaced with employment support allowance.

Mr Thomas said Turrall was overpaid a total of £85,329.61, adding: “She explained that in 2006 she had taken him to Cyprus to visit his dad and that Matthew had died on September 8 2006. She accepted she had not reported his death as she was struggling and later on just did not do it.”

Turrall, who has no previous convictions, admitted three charges of benefit fraud.

Mitigating, Antony Sugare said: “The defendant is very remorseful. She feels a great deal of shame.”

Jailing Turrall for 14 months, Judge Simon Phillips QC, said: “I recognise that the initiation of this dishonesty was the trauma of dealing with a sick child and dealing with the grief following his death.”

Source

The delay in this case coming to court is ridiculous. It has made this woman's life even worse for her.

200 hours' unpaid work for woman who illegally sublet council flat

A woman who pleaded guilty to dishonestly subletting her council flat is set to be stripped of the unlawful profit she made and will have to do 200 hours unpaid community work.

Suzie Litanda pleaded guilty at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court to twice subletting the whole of a council studio flat in Leather Lane between December 2013 and February 2016 and July and September 2016. During these periods she was living with her mother in a four bedroom council property, while charging the sub-tenants up to £850 a month in rent.

It's not obvious how you could sublet less than the whole of a studio flat - but "whole of" is becoming a legal quibble.

While recognising mitigating personal circumstances, the court considered the sub-letting offences under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 to be serious and ordered Ms Litanda to pay £600 costs in addition to the community service. Camden Council is now issuing civil proceedings to recover the £19,000 profit she made from the illegal sub-letting.

Magistrates should be able to make this order at the time - after all, it would have been the main penalty.

Councillor Meric Apak, Cabinet Member for Better Homes at Camden Council, said: “At a time of widespread calls for a national council house building programme, as many families struggle to find or afford suitable homes, it is both illegal and inexcusable for people to be profiting from subletting council homes that could be used by a family in need. I want to assure Camden residents we are committed to building a range of social and affordable housing through our Community Investment Programme and keeping our current council homes out of the hands of profiteers by taking those we suspect of breaking the rules to court.”

Source

16 Oct 2017

Guilty of illegal sub-letting, may face jail

A former champion boxer who became an Islamic extremist and ISIS supporter is facing jail for illegally sub-letting his home.

Anthony Small, 36, and his partner Maryam Malik, 25, charged nearly £1,000 a month to tenants living in two south London housing association properties, while the couple were receiving housing benefits.

Former British and Commonwealth boxing champion Small, who is also known as Abdul Haqq, starred last year in the BBC reality TV series, Muslims Like Us.

He was convicted of committing fraud which he used to help support his lifestyle.

He is a follower of the extremist preacher Anjem Choudary and has boasted online that he was labelled the 'ISIS boxer.'

Small was acquitted two years ago of using a false passport to try and leave the country in the back of a lorry to join the fighting in Syria.

Woolwich Crown Court heard that Small and Malik were living with her parents in Stoke-on-Trent after she had given birth to a baby in May last year. Small advertised his flat in Camberwell, south London and eventually let it out for £800 a month, even though he was still receiving £216 a month in housing benefit. Malik let out her flat in Sydenham, for about £900 a month in cash after answering an advert on Gumtree, while still receiving £502.80 in housing benefit.

The preacher would return to London for a few days a month to collect the rent and stay in a room at his flat, but his 'tenant' had the run of the rest of the apartment.

The tenants in both flats were apparently unaware of the illegal arrangement and Small had even drawn up a tenancy agreement that he had downloaded from the internet.

The scam was uncovered in August last year when Miss Malik arranged for a housing association engineer to attend one of the properties to fix a faulty boiler. The engineer realised the tenant had no idea the property was owned by a housing association and reported it to his bosses.

However, when they were caught out the pair then attempted to persuade two of their sub-tenants - one of whom was pregnant and due to give birth to a child with a heart defect - to leave. A tussle ensued with one of the tenants, who claimed he was punched to the ground.

Lesley Bates, prosecuting, said: 'This case is about two people who have taken advantage of a system which provides housing to those who need it and cannot afford to pay themselves. It is about two people who have sought to undermine that system by renting out the property they have been allocated and which is paid for by housing benefit, in order to obtain cash to line their own pockets.'

Small and Malik were each was found guilty of one count of fraud and one count of unlawful subletting.

They will be sentenced on November 2.

Source

Benefit frauds ran for ten years

A retired nurse faked tenancy agreements to pretend she only rented her £400,000 home and cheat £66,000 in benefits.

Margaret Ayensu, 71, spent ten years keeping up her lie to claim pensions credit and housing benefit she was not entitled to.

As well as creating the fraudulent tenancy agreement, she faked multiple letters to support her claims.

Meanwhile Ayensu squirrelled away the government cash while living in a leafy lane on the outskirts of the well-to-do village of Storrington, near Horsham.

Ayensu was spared jail by a judge who showed her leniency because of her age and years of public service working as a nurse.

The former nurse was told she will have to repay more than £66,000 she fraudulently claimed after she admitted failing to correctly notify the Department of Work and Pensions of her circumstances, and three counts of using fraudulent documents to claim housing benefit from Horsham District Council.

Gareth Burrows, prosecuting, told Lewes Crown Court: “She claimed she had no income coming in and she was renting her property. She provided a rental agreement from a landlord in the name of Margaret McAlpine, but that was a name she had previously used. The property belonged to her. She claimed housing benefit from 2005 for the address that was in fact hers. She then subsequently provided a letter from a Cecil Grey confirming the rental. Again that letter was false. A further letter was provided in 2009 and that letter was on headed paper and again saying there was a rental agreement on that property. Again that letter was fraudulent. Whilst her deceit may not have taken considerable effort it was over a long period of time.”

Martin Williams, defending Ayensu, said she had fallen into financial difficulties after retiring and falling out with her daughter, but had not realised there were benefits available that could help her while struggling to meet mortgage repayments.

Recorder Tom Nicholson-Pratt told Ayensu: “If you had gone about this in a legitimate way you could have got some help.”

Agreeing to suspend the 12 month sentence he imposed on her for a year he added: “You come before the court for dishonesty over a considerable period of time, between 2006 and 2017. You provided false documents to support your claim. You must have realised as this was going on you could stop it at any time. But you perpetuated it.

“You are now 71 years of age and have some health concerns. I take the view that in the circumstances of this case I can suspend your 12 month sentence and there will be a rehabilitation requirement on you. I know you are not going to put yourself in this position again.”

Ayensu was ordered to complete 10 rehabilitation sessions and will have to reappear before the court on January 8 to ensure she has repaid what she owes.

Source

13 Oct 2017

Oxford recovers 21 social housing properties IN ONE YEAR

Oxford City Council's Investigation Service saved the Council £5.1 million in 2016/17, recovering 21 social housing properties that were in the hands of non-authorised occupants, and sifting out 33 fraudulent right-to-buy applications. (h/t Fraudmanager)

That was just in one year.

How much could that be nationally? Every year?

6 Oct 2017

Light sentence for sub-letting mother

A mum who bought a house while illegally subletting two council properties has narrowly avoided going to jail.

Paula Callaway moved into a three bedroom house in Ravenoak Way, Chigwell, in 1999 - but didn’t tell the authorities when she bought a new house in Dunmow, Essex, in 2008.

She rented the Chigwell house out to her son and five other people, something which was in breach of her tenancy agreement with Moat Housing.

Then in 2012, she said she needed to downsize and asked the council if she could take part in a house swap.

This was approved and she pretended to “move in” to a one bedroom in Felstead Way, Loughton, but instead rented that property out, too.

But it then transpired she carried out the mutual exchange with her sister-in-law so she could move into a three-bedroom house.

After a five day trial at Chelmsford Crown Court Ms. Callaway was found guilty of two offences relating to social housing fraud.

Having previously pleaded guilty to the criminal offence of dishonestly subletting a property, she was sentenced with a 12 month suspended sentence on both counts of fraud, 150 hours community service and a victim surcharge.

The Judge stated: “You were given social housing once you had bought a home of your own. There is chronic shortage of social homes and you deprived a family from living in a home for six years. This went on far too long. It went on but you must know what you did was wrong.”

Source

Yes, this is a particularly nasty type of fraud on society. But she has scarcely been punished for it.