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22 Dec 2018

'Thoroughly dishonest' £12k benefit cheat did not declare second house

A £12,000 benefit cheat who kept a second home secret from the government has been branded greedy and dishonest - but avoided prison.

Razean Afsar, 55, was told by Teesside's most senior judge: "You are a thoroughly dishonest woman.

"Many offences of benefit fraud are carried out by people who are desperate," said Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC. "You were not desperate. You had access to at least £22,500. It was motivated by greed."

Prosecutor Nigel Soppitt said Afsar started claiming benefits in 2006 as an unemployed woman with no other income. But she bought a second home on Lansdowne Road, Longlands , Middlesbrough on a buy-to-let mortgage in February 2013.

She did not tell the Department for Work and Pensions of the £90,000 purchase, with £67,500 borrowing and £22,500 equity in the property. And she claimed on DWP forms she had no capital, making a string of false declarations in 2013 and 2015.

"Plainly she did," said prosecutor Jonathan Walker at Teesside Crown Court on Thursday. "The overpayments made were £12,198.73 from February 2013 to July 2015. Inquiries were started into this lady and this led to the discovery of the fact she already owned a property in central Middlesbrough. She conceded the allegations in interview, saying she had to move because that property was damp."

Afsar admitted one charge of fraud, one of failing to disclose information to make a gain and three of making false statements to obtain benefits. The benefits were income support, employment support allowance and jobseeker's allowance.

Magistrates heard in October that she expressed "deep remorse and regret".

Tom Mitchell, defending at the sentencing hearing, said: "She has been in this country since she was 22. She has no previous convictions. She has pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. There was effectively a full confession."

He said she would face repaying the state under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

"Ultimately she will pay for her crime fully because there is equity in the property," he added. "She's not accused of criminally buying a house. She is accused of telling a lie and conniving in the same lie on several occasions."

Judge Bourne-Arton, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, told Afsar: "You were dishonest in the way you committed these offences. In my judgment you were dishonest in what you said to the probation officer. You are not illiterate and uneducated. You had the capacity to take out this mortgage and to plan this offence. There was a degree of sophistication behind these offences.

"You will of course lose all benefit of your crime. In the fullness of time the sum of £12,200 will be taken from you.

"It's conceded on your behalf that a sentence of imprisonment is inevitable."

Bearing in mind her age and lack of previous convictions, he did not jail her, but made her a prisoner in her own home at night. She was given an eight-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months with a four-month 9pm to 7am curfew.

Source

2 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

I still you're still updating this blog, well done, keep up the good work.

John Page said...

Thanks, Mark, and happy Christmas