Three people have been found guilty of helping foreigners fraudulently claim more than half a million pounds in housing benefit from Redbridge Council.
The defendants ran “bogus” businesses and charities, which would provide fake employment details for Italians of Bangladeshi origin to claim benefits.
Chowdhury Muyeed, 52, from Newbury Park, was convicted of the more serious offence of conspiring to dishonestly produce documentation relating to social security with a 10 – 2 majority.
After nine hours of deliberating the jury found his wife Asma Khanam, 47, guilty of dishonestly producing documentation by the same majority, but not guilty of conspiring to do so.
The third defendant Habibur Rahman, 36, of Arbury Road, Mile End, was acquitted of the conspiracy charge, but convicted of the same crime as Khanam by a 10 – 2 majority.
Judge Nigel Peters QC said: “All three are convicted of serious offences. In the male defendants’ case, both face substantial sentences of imprisonment.”
Judge Peters indicated the starting point for Muyeed would be five and half years in jail due to “high culpability”, and Khanam’s involvement would be decided at sentencing on April 8.
The crown indicated it would be pressing for strong sentences for the couple, as the fraudulent benefit claims they assisted amounted to “just under £1million” from Redbridge and Tower Hamlets Councils.
During the nine-day case, the court heard 26 people had already admitted falsely claiming benefits in relation to the case, and four people were found guilty of the same offence.
Judge Peters rejected bail applications from Muyeed and Rahman, who has three children under the age of nine. He granted Khanam bail so she could make preparations for the care of her 12-year-old son.