8 Feb 2017

Authorities begin efforts to claw back £200k from 'disabled' benefit fraudster caught on a treadmill

The authorities have begun efforts to claim back hundreds of thousands of pounds from a convicted benefit cheat who acquired a £1million property portfolio in Croydon.

Angel Jackson was locked up for seven years in November after she was caught using a gym treadmill on CCTV, despite claiming to be disabled and in need of a wheelchair.

Jackson, who prosecutors are struggling to accurately identity, was found to have cheated the taxpayer out of £191,414 over a 10 year period by fraudulently claiming benefits.

On Friday (February 3), a proceeds of crime hearing against Jackson - who is locked up in HMP Bronzefield in Surrey - got under way.

The legislation allows prosecutors to confiscate any criminal property - that is anything a criminal might have gained from their crimes, including cash and real estate - in this case the two flats in Croydon Jackson bought with proceeds from her frauds.

Prosecutors will now get the power to further investigate her finances and assets so they can tell what was bought with her criminal profits. It is hoped the investigations will be finished by the summer.

Jackson, who is thought to be 52 though the prosecution admitted they cannot be sure of her real name or identity, was described as a "vain and self-important person" with a "staggering contempt for the court" when she was jailed by Judge Adam Hiddleston at Croydon Crown Court in November.

At the time the court heard she established a complex web of lies to claim housing benefit, income support and compensation from Croydon Council, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and other authorities over a ten-year period between 2002 and 2012 - altogether cheating the taxpayer out of £191,414.

She claimed for properties in which she didn't live, in the names of people who didn't exist, and for accidents that didn't happen.

Jackson even disappeared for two weeks halfway through her trial and a warrant had to be issued for her arrest before she was again caught.

She sometimes refused to leave the prison van to appear in court and also turned up in a wheelchair but was rumbled when CCTV was obtained of her using the treadmill at her luxury block's private gym in Croydon.

Jackson, who already owned a house in Mitcham, bought two swanky flats in the same block, complete with its own gym, in Croydon in 2005 for more than £300,000, and fraudulently claimed housing benefit for each of them.

She also tried to wring every penny in compensation from two car collisions using invented passengers, only to be caught when doctors spotted two separate x-rays on two separate claims were almost identical.

During the trial last year prosecutor Francesca Levett told the court Jackson lied to the local authorities and the DWP for more than a decade and defrauded the authorities out of £191,414. She said: "Far from being an honest claimant, who turned to the authorities because she was genuinely in need, she manipulated the system, told countless lies, hijacked identities and defrauded her way into becoming an affluent property owner without ever working a single day."

Although the authorities believe she is Ghanaian, Ms Levett told the jury: "We do not actually know the true identity of the defendant, nor do we know her true date of birth."

When her home was raided in September 2012, officers found £22,000 in £50 notes hidden in a wardrobe, reams of counterfeit paperwork and 12 mobile phones.

Jackson lured her soon-to-be husband, Irish-born Thomas Duffy, by telling him she was a "lady of traditional values", before buying a house with him in August 2002 - while still claiming housing benefit - and going behind his back to obtain his UK residency to support her own.

The pair had married on Valentine's Day 2002, but she stopped him from telling his family and yet she didn't even allow him to live with her.

Ms Levett said: "This was very far from a happy, new marriage, as not only did Mr Duffy not live with his wife, but the marriage wasn't ever consummated."

The court heard that "whenever he needed to sign something presented to him by his wife, his glasses would disappear". Ms Levett said: "It appears that Mr Duffy was used by his wife to purchase a property she had no intention of sharing with him."

In July 2005, Jackson bought another property, a £150,000 flat in Croydon, in her husband's name, without him knowing - and two months later bought another flat in the same building, this time in her own name, for £152,500.

Ms Levett said: "Not only did she fail to notify the authorities that she had purchased yet another property, but she then applied for housing benefit, claiming that she lived there and did not own her own property."

She lied to her husband that the home they owned together was being repossessed and that he had to move out - all to support a claim she had made on a housing benefit form. Ms Levett said: "Mr Duffy describes himself as so confused and afraid. He had lost everything, yet still the defendant collected his wages every week. He was depressed and fragile, frightened to open his door."

Jackson rented out one of the flats she had bought and in March 2011, Ruby Kunaka, and her partner Solomon Acha Morfew, agreed to move into one of Jackson's properties after meeting her. However, Jackson told them her name was Jules and that the landlord was her husband 'Alan Davies'. She prohibited her new tenants from claiming benefits or contacting the council for any reason and charged them £880 per month.

But unknown to Ms Kunaka and Mr Morfew, she was also claiming £600 a month in housing benefit on the flat, using the name Angel Jackson. Ms Levett said: "So, once the mortgage was paid, the defendant was doing very well financially, by getting two lots of rent for one property."

A few months later, in July, the new tenants complained about broken appliances and revealed to Jackson that they had contacted the Citizen's Advice Bureau about the matter. Ms Levett said: "The defendant became very angry. She threatened to throw them out straight away. The following day, just six days after their full month's rent had been paid, the defendant attended at their home address with a number of big men, and proceeded to remove all of their belongings from the flat."

In June 2007, an 'Angel Duffy' claimed for an apparent car crash in which she had suffered whiplash and a burned ankle while her husband was driving. She claimed that her friend, 'Angel Jackson', her daughter Latoya and another friend named Fifi were also injured in the crash.

Jackson said she had employed a carer called Hannah, Ms Levett said, adding: "Hannah apparently provided care for Angel and Latoya for an impossible 27 hours a day. Their total claim for care and assistance was over £53,000 for a ten month period."

Jackson, of Mitcham, also claimed £24,000 for an osteopath, falsified evidence of which was found on her computer.

Ms Levett added: "The fact that she had invoices purportedly from Hannah on her computer, together with letters from Angel Jackson, Latoya Jackson, Fifi and Angel Duffy, wholeheartedly indicates that the defendant hijacked identities, and did so comfortably."

Ms Levett added: "Her deception came to light when the x-rays of Angela Duffy and the x-rays of Angel Jackson revealed the same degenerative changes in the spine that were beyond coincidence." Both Duffy and Jackson also said they were dance instructors and each claimed for flat shoes at a cost of more than £600.

Altogether, Jackson was found guilty of 32 charges relating to her ten-year fraud campaign. She was jailed for four-and-a-half years for the fraud, two years for creating false documents and six months for illegally evicting tenants - all to be served consecutively.

Source with pictures

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