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5 Oct 2015

Light sentence for calculating benefit thief

A woman who claimed council benefits despite running a used car dealership turning over up to £1m a year has avoided jail, according to the council. Joyce Abboud was instead given a suspended six-month sentence after admitting to a single count of dishonestly claiming housing and council tax benefits, Kensington & Chelsea Council said.

A warrant has also been issued for the arrest of her husband, Youssef Abboud.

The court heard when the defendant and her husband, from Shalfleet Drive in White City, claimed benefit in 2005 she told the royal borough that Mr Abboud was only earning an average of £100 per week from his company Abboud Ltd.

However, when K&C made further enquiries with their accountant, it emerged that the used car dealership was far more financially successful than they had declared, with a turnover of between £600,000 - £1m.

The couple also had a number of undeclared personal and business bank accounts, the council said, which they had used to hide the true level of their earnings from the council.

This prompted the council to call Mrs Abboud in for an interview under caution in February 2013 in which she admitted that extra income would lead to a reduction or cessation of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.

As a result of her failing to declare changes in her income, Mr and Mrs Abboud received approximately £30,000 in housing council tax benefits to which they were not entitled to between October 31 2005 and July 16 2012.

Although she initially pleaded not guilty, she changed her plea to guilty on what would have been the first day of her trial, on July 28 at Isleworth Crown Court, the council added.

Appearing for sentencing at the same court on September 25, judge Recorder G Curtis-Raleigh gave her a six-month sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered her to do 120 hours of community service.

He told Abboud: “Let me be clear, benefit fraud takes scarce and vital public resources away from those who desperately need it and lines the pockets of the greedy. It is money raised from the taxes of honest and hard-working people and wrongfully taking it undermines trust in the system”.

As Mr Abboud failed to attend an interview under caution and subsequent magistrate court appearances. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

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