A woman who committed a £49,000 tax fraud while employed by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has been given a suspended jail sentence.
Naila Ali claimed £49,837 in tax credits over a 13 year period, but failed to declare her full circumstances and the fact she was living with her husband and drawing a joint income. The 46-year-old was working at HMRC’s Russell Street office, in Middlesbrough, in an administrative role when the fraud was uncovered by investigators.
During the course of the scam Ali, from Linthorpe, Middlesbrough, splashed out on a £175,000 house and paid for its renovations, it was discovered.
Joff Parsons, head of internal governance criminal investigations at HMRC, said: “For more than a decade, Ali pocketed thousands of pounds knowing that she wasn’t entitled to it. She is now paying the price for stealing money that should have been paid to those who really needed the extra support.”
The defendant admitted being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent payment of tax credits, totalling £49,837, between 2003 and 2016. She has since repaid the full amount after being given a chance to return the funds.
Sentencing her at Teesside Crown Court, Judge Sean Morris said she had only avoided custody by the skin of her teeth.
He said: “Bearing in mind the country has all of its money back, I don’t see why the country should have to pay out to put you up in a room in a prison. What you can do is work for free for the country instead. Your motivation was not greed, but insecurity that you would be left to fend for yourself. This money was squirreled away in case that happened.”
Ali received a six month jail sentence, suspended for 18 months, and was also ordered by the judge to carry out 120 hours unpaid work in the community.