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28 Jan 2019

Serious benefit fraud brings slap on the wrist

A Reading woman who claimed more than £60,000 in benefits for care her disabled daughter never received has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Bia Abdul, 45, submitted bogus invoices for private care services between 2013 and 2016 in order to receive payments.

She was found guilty at Reading Crown Court of eight fraud offences, and handed a two-year prison sentence suspended for two years.

Abdul was also ordered to do 50 hours of unpaid community service.

Reading Borough Council said Abdul went to "extensive lengths" to defraud the authority and "used the funds for things unrelated to her daughter's care package".

The deceit was uncovered after discrepancies were spotted by council staff in her paperwork.

Recorder Patrick Talbot told Abdul she had shown "no remorse" and that her "culpability was high", a statement from Reading Borough Council said.

A jury found her guilty following a 12-day trial of fraud by abuse of position, concealing criminal property, three counts of furnishing false information and three counts of fraud by false representation.

Reading council said it was believed to be the "largest ever" fraud in the UK related to the direct payments system.

Councillor Tony Jones, Reading's council's lead member for adult social care, said: "The successful prosecution was the culmination of a proactive investigation which successfully uncovered a large-scale fraud of the direct payments system. This was a very difficult offence to identify and prove, and shows just how much effort went into concealing this particular fraud."

Abdul was not ordered to cover costs due to her inability to pay.

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