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14 May 2013

Pay it all back now

A benefit cheat pocketed over £38,000 income support by claiming to have no savings when he had up to £60,000 stashed in bank accounts. (h/t Dave)

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard how Mohinder Sohota got away with the scam for five and a half years until officials were tipped off by the Inland Revenue about the amount of interest he was earning from the secret cash deposits.

Mr Alistair Redford, prosecuting, said Sohota, from Smethwick, first signed a form claiming to be eligible for benefits because he had no savings in September 2006 when he had £49,410 in savings. This had soared to £60,663 by the time the fraud was uncovered, it was revealed.

The 56-year-old trickster also had shares and opened another bank account and put £15,000 in it to pay for an extension to his home, the court was told. Mr Redford concluded: “This was fraudulent from the outset.”

But Mr Devon Small, defending, argued: “It was the result of a genuine mistake. The defendant does not speak English and was acting on the advice of a friend.”

Mr Small conceded that other forms were subsequently signed by father-of-three Sohota who did not regard much of the money as belonging to him since it was saved for the weddings of his daughters.

Sohota, who was of previous good character, admitted false representation and is now paying back the money at the rate of £100-a-week.

Why? Take his savings now!

Recorder Stephen Campbell told him: “You obtained a significant amount of money over a protracted period while having significant personal savings but I am going to take what some will consider a lenient course. This is because you pleaded guilty, have not been in trouble before, are making repayments.”

Sohota received an eight month jail sentence suspended under supervision for a year.
  • Benefit thieves do it for the money. They should know they will have to pay back twice what they stole. They should not be eligible for any benefits until they have, and they should have to do some unpaid work every week until the debt to society is cleared.

    That would be a deterrent.

    A confiscation order should be made immediately.

    Any benefit thieves who don't go to prison should also have to do unpaid work.

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