Two Ilford benefit fraudsters have been sentenced for their part in a massive scam which saw millions stolen by people claiming to be employed by bogus companies.
Ahmed Faruque, 45, and Soyef Ahmed, 51, were ordered to pay back thousands swindled from Redbridge Council in housing benefits. The pair had changed their plea to guilty in August after initially denying the crime.
Barkingside Magistrates’ Court heard how Faruque made his first claim in February 2013, a week after being approached by somebody in Italy telling him of the scam. In Ilford, he produced fraudulent pay slips saying he was working for Ilford company Families for Survival UK and over the next seven months fraudulently claimed £7,312.11. The court heard Faruque moved with his wife and two children to Ilford where he met a fundraiser and for a few days was actually working for Families for Survival UK. He soon realised it was illegal but desperate to provide for his family he continued with the scam.
He was ordered to pay back the full amount and serve 180 hours of unpaid work in addition to a £60 victim surcharge.
Ahmed, who stole £3,285.83 between December 2013 and May 2014 by performing the same scam, said he realised after a few days that what he was doing was illegal, but carried claiming anyway because he was in financial difficulty. He was ordered to pay back the full amount plus the £60 victim surcharge and given 120 hours of unpaid work.
Sentencing them, district judge Sandeep Kainth said: “You may well have thought it was a quick way of making some easy money – it wasn’t. All actions have consequences.”
So far, 33 people have been charged over the scam following the investigation by Redbridge Council, and 22 people have pleaded guilty to 24 offences.
Cllr Kam Rai, cabinet member for finance, said: “We will absolutely not tolerate fraudsters who exploit the welfare system and place extra pressure on limited resources required by the genuinely needy. We have worked hard to root it out and are very pleased the perpetrators are being prosecuted. Our message is clear, if you commit fraud, we will come after you and you will be punished. This fraud was detected late last year and since then our Benefit Fraud Team has been painstakingly investigating to collect the evidence and this success is a direct result of their very hard work."