Statcounter

Showing posts with label Immigrant benefit fraudsters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Immigrant benefit fraudsters. Show all posts

3 Aug 2018

Glasgow police target large scale benefit fraud

Homes and businesses have been raided in Glasgow as part of a major crackdown on "industrial scale" benefit fraud.

Police said Operation Arnos, which targeted addresses in Govanhill, led to 16 arrests and the seizure of over 200 productions from a business.

More than 100 officers were joined by staff from the Department of Work and Pensions, HM Revenue & Customs, and Home Office Immigration Enforcement.

An organised crime group is behind the fraud, which could be as much as £4.6m.

Police said the first phase targeted members of the crime gang while the second focused on the facilitators.

The force confirmed 14 individuals were arrested on suspicion of benefit fraud, mortgage fraud and money laundering.

A woman was arrested on warrant and a man was arrested in connection with a cannabis cultivation, which included several hundred plants with a potential street value of about £200,000.

Fraudulent documentation was also recovered from a vehicle which had been used as a mobile office.

Assistant Chief Constable Gillian MacDonald said the offensive has been planned since late last year:
Today's operation is the largest of its kind since Police Scotland came into being. Quite simply it is targeting organised crime in one of our local communities here in Govanhill. What we are dealing with today is an almost industrial scale benefit fraud, an attack on the UK benefits system by an organised crime group.
Assistant Chief Constable MacDonald said the group had been active for some time:
This gang has been operating in and around Govanhill using local premises and a mobile office to carry out a variety of crimes, which are undoubtedly impacting on the local community. People have been claiming benefits to which they are not entitled and using false IDs but this activity has been orchestrated by individuals who are reaping millions of pounds from the benefits system while also claiming benefits themselves. We fully expect there will be more arrests as a result of this operation over the coming weeks and months.
Officers are also looking for evidence of people trafficking and illegal immigration.

A total of 37 premises were visited on Wednesday and a number searched.

The haul of more than 200 productions from a business in Govanhill included documentation and electronic devices.

Officers attended a number of addresses intending to speak to residents claiming housing benefit but several had clearly been empty for a prolonged period.

Clearly the checking to stop taxpayers' cash being wasted isn't up to much.

To date about £1.5m of fraudulent benefit claims have already been stopped

Bob Gallacher, senior investigations leader at the DWP, warned this type of criminality is occurring in cities throughout the UK.

And Joe Hendry, assistant director of HMRC's Fraud Investigation Service, said:
This is suspected benefit fraud on a massive scale. Benefit fraud is theft - it takes taxpayers' money from our vital public services and puts it into the pockets of criminals. We will continue working with our partners to investigate and stop these offences.

Source

More with pictures

16 Jul 2018

Zimbabweans caught abusing the benefit system in UK

After my article on the Zimbabwean parents abusing their children for benefits (writes Masimba Mavasa), I was overwhelmed by calls and emails demanding that I write about adults who are abusing the benefit system in the UK. Many Zimbabweans are giving the country a bad name in the UK because of their love for money. Benefit fraud has been the most abused system in the UK and many Zimbabweans have joined the band wagon. Many have defended it without shame while have said they are taking our money which was stolen by the colonialists. Either way there is no and must be no justification of crime in any way. Eye for an eye makes the world blind. (h/t Dave)

A Zimbabwean by the name Shingirai Zvokunzwa made news when British fraud investigators followed a trail through social networking sites and immigration records to unmask the double life of a Zimbabwean benefits cheat. But justice caught up with Shingirai Zvokunzwa when a judge jailed him for 10 months for fiddling £28,000 from Reading Borough Council.

A court was told Zvokunzwa started claiming housing and council tax benefit in August 2006 when he told the council he was living alone and getting Job Seekers' Allowance. But three years later council investigators following up a tip-off discovered the house where he was living in east Reading was empty and neighbours said the occupant had moved to Canada.

But a full identity fraud investigation was launched jointly by the council and the Department of Work and Pensions after it was discovered Zvokunzwa had told his landlord his name was Tevin Mukonda.

The court heard it was then established that Zvokunzwa changed his name to Mukonda after arriving in Britain from his native Zimbabwe. In the name of Mukonda he had pocketed three years of government education grant on top of the state and housing benefits he had been claiming. He also got a student loan after enrolling at Reading University. But single students with no disabilities receiving full-time education are not eligible, in the majority of cases, for housing benefit.

Further information about Zvokunzwa was gathered from social networking sites, including Facebook, and it transpired that far from moving to Canada, he was living in Milton Keynes - where as Mukonda he had made another benefit claim.

Zvokunzwa admitted six offences of fraud when he appeared at Aylesbury Crown Court, and on top of the jail sentence he was ordered to repay the money he fiddled from Reading Borough Council. Hundreds of Zimbabweans have dipped their fingers into crime and have benefited at the expense of real sufferers.

Patrick Malati, a Zimbabwean living in Leeds, claimed over one hundred and fifty thousand pounds from the Disability allowance claiming that he was blind. Yes blind. He was arrested on a driving whilst drunk offence and it turned out he was a blind Zimbabwean on benefits.

The way the system works encourages people to claim benefits and avoid working for themselves.

There are many Zimbabweans in prison now for benefit frauds. Some are not yet arrested but the net is closing. Many Zimbabweans are working hard but their good efforts are being soiled by the few criminals littering the UK.

More

17 May 2018

Immigrant took council flat when she owned a property

A self-confessed cheating council tenant who raked in £31,000 renting her private flat claims she will be made homeless - because she has to pay it all back.

The News caught up with Irina Serstena after she appeared before Peterborough Crown Court for the outcome of a Proceeds Of Crime Act application.

The 41-year-old, who is from Latvia, had been renting out a flat she owned while living in a coucil property in St Neots.

Serstena, who now lives in the flat she owns in Gabriel Court, Peterborough, was living in the council flat in Loves Way.

She pleaded guilty to two offences under the Fraud Act 2006 by applying for social housing when she already owned a property.

Huntingdonshire District Council’s Corporate Fraud Team discovered Serstena bought the flat in August 2011 and failed to declare this to the council while applying for social housing.

She continued to bid for social housing and in October 2011 successfully and illegally bid for the Loves Way property, moving there in November 2011 while renting out the flat she owned for the last six years.

Serstena originally appeared at court on December 15, 2017 and, as a result of pleading guilty, was sentenced to a 12-month community order concurrent in respect of each offence with a requirement for 150 hours unpaid work.

She did her community service in a charity shop.

She told the News: "I was thinking at the hearing that no one listened to my story or even asked about it. What I have done is wrong and I feel terrible about that and I regret it but there is another side to the story.

"When I arrived in the UK after Latvia joined the EU in 2004 and I came to this country to seek a better life. To start with I did what they said with all the immigration rules and signed up for the working scheme and spent years before I could apply for the residents' permit.

"It took six years before I could get leave to remain. We were not allowed to ask for benefits or apply for a council property and i lived in shared houses and worked hard."

She said: "I was struggling and someone said the council would help and I applied to get on the waiting list. I was on it for five years and nothing happened. I did bid for several flats but didn't get them. I thought I'd never get one.

"I moved into a one bedroom maisonette and was working in a supermarket but after rent and bills, I had nothing left. I would have no money five days after I was paid and I asked the council for help but they said they couldn't help me.

"I moved in with friends and let the council know. The friends had to leave the flat and so did I and I told the council I was being made homeless. I asked again for help twice and they didn't help.

"Then I asked my mum for help. I had been sending money home to her in Latvia and she had saved it all up. She gave it back to me and that's when I put the deposit down on the flat in Peterborough.

"I forgot to notify the council and I really didn't think it mattered as it had never offered me a flat. The property I bought looked good at first but was in a bad state and I had to spend a lot fixing it up.

"Then out of the blue the council called me up and asked if I still needed a flat - I stupidly said yes I need it. So I moved into the St Neots property and started renting the Peterborough flat as I wasn't working and had no money.

"I thought I'd give up the council property when I can move into the Peterborough flat but had a tricky time with the tenants and the flat flooded and I had to wait for the insurance money to totally refurbish it and that's when the problem started because I was caught by the fraud team and taken to court.

"I now have to pay back £33,000 and will have to sell my flat to do it and then will probably be homeless and have to apply for another council flat.

"I am a taxi driver and work 60 hours a week but my last year's wage was £14,000.

"It wasn't my intention to cheat someone. To survive as a single person is tough. I can apologise but do not judge me or you will be judged because you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow and I cannot change what has happened."

On April 13, His Honour Judge Lowe made a confiscation order for Serstena to pay £31,184.62 in full within six months or face a one year prison sentence. Costs of £1,200 were also awarded to the council.

She said: "I have put the flat on the market as I have to pay back the £33,000 by October. If I don't sell the flat I don't know what I will do and my accountant says I may only have £5,000 left after selling the flat and paying the money back."

Oliver Morley, the council's corporate director of services, said: "We work hard to ensure cheats are not going to get away with it in Huntingdonshire. We take housing those that need it very seriously and, as this case shows, we use all powers at our disposal to pursue those that illegally claim help they are not entitled to.”

Source with pictures and video

5 Apr 2018

Immigrant was benefit fraudster

A kitchen porter who claimed thousands of pounds in benefits told officials “if you don’t catch me, I’ll keep doing it”, a court heard.

Idajet Zenga, 61, claimed for employment and support allowance while working at Fellini’s, in Linthorpe, Middlesbrough.

The Albanian father-of-two failed to tell the DWP that he had worked at the Italian eatery for a number of years.

Zenga, who appeared at Teesside Magistrates’ Court unrepresented, pleaded guilty to four counts of benefit fraud.

Lynne Dalton, prosecuting, said: “In December 2014, the defendant made an application for Jobseeker’s Allowance on the basis that he was not in work. However information came to light that he had in fact been employed as a kitchen porter since June 2008.”

The court heard that the total overpayment made to Zenga between December 2012 and November 2016 was £7,084.60.

“When he was asked why he failed to declare his work to the department he said ‘if you don’t catch me, I’ll keep doing it’,” Ms Dalton told the court.

A probation report revealed that Zenga was born in Albania and had moved to the UK in 2000 to seek asylum with his family.

The court heard how lives with his wife and their two children, aged 29 and 16, and that plans were in place for him to repay the money he received.

Chair of the bench, Martin Slimmings, told the defendant: “There are four offences of benefit fraud before us today totally a little over £7,000. In the scheme of things, that fraud is towards the bottom end of the scale. Given your previous good character and your guilty plea, we have decided this offence does not pass the custody threshold and you will not be going to prison today."

Zenga, of Regent Road, Middlesbrough, was given a 12-month community order with 150 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £170 in costs.

Source with picture

4 Apr 2018

Even more to this than meets the eye

A man who told the authorities who paid his £40,000 benefits he did not like to travel took 839 flights over nine years.

Sahin Lim, 61, had five undeclared bank accounts that more than £420,000 went in and out of.

A court heard flights were paid for him to countries including Australia, America and Thailand.

Lim, from Partick, admitted a number of benefits offences when he appeared before Glasgow Sheriff Court.

Between 1 April 2005 and 9 May 2014 he received £16,491 income support, employment support allowance and jobseekers' allowance.

And, between 25 April 2005 and 21 April 2015 he received a total of £23,508 for housing and council tax benefit, all without declaring a change of circumstances.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard Lim, who is originally from Turkey, has been receiving some means tested benefits since April 2002 and others since 2010.

When applying for them he claimed he had savings of around £200 between two bank accounts.

Despite completing 45 forms and being spoken to on the phone on four occasions Lim said he had no savings, no other money in any other bank accounts and no other income.

Procurator fiscal depute Richard Hill said: "During this period, Lim completed several medical assessment forms in relation to his employment support allowance claim. Within the forms the accused stated he would only go outdoors if he had an appointment, that he did not like going outdoors alone, spends the majority of his time in his house and does not like travelling."

In June 2012 the Department of Work and Pensions received information that Lim had large sums of cash and was travelling abroad extensively, while claiming benefits.

Mr Hill added: "Investigations were carried out and it was established he had five undeclared bank accounts. It was established that during the period of the libel £426,625 entered these accounts and £423,436 left the accounts."

The court heard that the accounts received substantial payments of up to £14,900 but funds were either withdrawn or transferred within days.

Lim took 839 international flights during the period between April 2005 and May 2014.

He paid for a substantial number of flights but many were not in his name and he was not the named passenger.

Defence lawyer Ryan Sloan said: "Mr Lim is a prominent member of the Turkish community in Glasgow. His position is that over the period of the charges he was repeatedly entrusted by other parties to carry out financial transactions on their behalf. The only benefit he would receive would be in the purchase of his flights. He accepted that all of this money has been going through these accounts."

Sheriff Joseph Platt deferred sentence for reports and remanded Lim in custody.

Source with picture

12 Jan 2018

Illegal immigrant in £32k benefit fraud

A judge has slammed the Home Office for failing to deport an illegal immigrant who entered the UK on the back of a lorry to illegally claim £32,000 in benefits.

Kerim Koroglu, 49, pocketed handouts he was not entitled to collect for more than six years after he sneaked into the country in a lorry on 30 August 2002.

Koroglu used a fake ‘leave to remain’ letter to swindle £32,549 in housing and council tax benefits from Hackney Council.

The false document, described by prosecutor Will Martin as ‘very convenient’, purported to grant Koroglu asylum in 2004, enabling him to claim the welfare and bring his wife and two children over from Turkey.

The Alawi Kurd, representing himself, said he had no idea where the letter came from.

But he was convicted of benefit fraud by an Old Bailey jury and jailed for 30 months. Koroglu now faces deportation after living illegally in the UK for more than 15 years.

Before sentencing the fraudster the judge, Mr Recorder Oliver Sells, QC, grilled Heather Laing, an immigration officer, on how he was able to use an unsigned letter to dupe the authorities.

The judge said: ‘It became clear during the trial that this defendant had, to use your words, exhausted his appeals by the end of 2002 and as you say in your statement he should have left voluntarily at that stage but where people do not do so – putting it bluntly – he should have been deported.’

Ms Laing, said: ‘Mr Keroglu came into the system when it was very reliant on paper and human investigation, his file became lost in the system and I think that is set out in the witness statement. What became of the file at the time I am not aware of but it did come back into light.’

The judge said: ‘None of what happened thereafter would have if the Home Office had carried out its function properly. That is the point of enquiry into this case, it is not simply an administrative failure. As we have seen in these courts only too frequently, the long term consequences and the substantial costs to the public that should never have been – and still public funds are being expended.

‘It is also apparent that there were other opportunities between 2002 and 2012 when these matters finally came to light, which were missed by the Home Office. The document itself, I do not know if you have seen it – no, I would like you to see it, this is a letter purportedly dated 14 February 2004 to this defendant in a form with which I would expect you’re familiar.

‘This letter was for him a very important document indeed with enormous consequences for people in his family, but also for the public – but it is not sent by anybody with a name, there is no signature to refer to and no author to verify – why is that? It is opening the way for fraud isn’t it? It is making life for dishonest people much easier. There were a number of opportunities to assess this letter but it wasn’t in fact assessed for many years.’

Koroglu smuggled himself into the country on the back of a truck in 2002 and then used the help of criminals to obtain the false documentm the court heard.

Prosecutor Will Martin said: ‘Mr Koroglu came to this country seeking asylum in 2002, he made an application as a refugee in August 2002 which was refused. He took the matter to appeal, the appeal was not successful and by the end of 2002 Mr Koroglu had no appeal rights left – they were exhausted. It was at that point that Mr Keroglu had no basis to be in this country.

‘In 2006, Mr Koroglu made an application to the London Borough of Hackney for council tax benefit and housing tax benefit.

‘These applications it became clear were made on the back of a false ‘leave to remain’ letter that letter was dated 2004, but it is likely it came into his possession in 2006 because it was in the spring of 2006 that Mr Keroglu started to bring his wife and two children over on the back of the same document with an application for visas made in Istanbul.

‘Mr Koroglu maintains and still maintains that he did not know that the letter was false despite correspondence from the Home Office on multiple occasions.

‘On 29 May 2012 Mr Koroglu presented the document to the investigating officer with the intention of misleading the London Borough of Hackney.

‘In subsequent interviews under caution he sought to blame the Home Office and Home Office administration and that was the account which was maintained and disbelieved at the three day trial in November.’

Koroglu, a married painter and decorator, has three children living in the country – one of whom was born here.

He was convicted of swindling £27,289 in housing benefit and £5,100 in council tax benefit, as well as using false documentation after an Old Bailey trial.

The judge said: ‘I have given anxious consideration as to whether it would be right in this case to suspend any sentence. I should be failing in my duty to the public if I took such a course, these are serious offences.

‘They are coercive of public trust in the benefits system and they are very difficult to detect.

‘The Home Office had both the power and the information which they should and could have used to remove you from this country – their failure to do so reflects upon their conduct at the time.

‘But in the final analysis you and those who supported that document where the architects of these actions, while the Home Office could have prevented you by removing you, you have a responsibility to obey the law even if you were here illegally.’

Koroglu, from Shoreditch, was sentenced to 30 months for obtaining property by deception and 24 months concurrent for obtaining the false documentation.

He denied the offences.

Source

13 Dec 2017

Immigrant benefit thief stole £244,000

A benefits fraudster conned 22 councils out of £244,000 in fraudulent housing benefit claims.

Tania Amisi, who lived in Chelsea Harbour, an upmarket district of London, tricked local authorities for six years using fake names into paying her housing and council benefits for properties she did not live at.

The mother of three, who came to the UK from Congo as an asylum seeker aged 12 and was granted indefinite leave to remain, would claim benefits on properties which already had tenants as well as on her own property.

She had also put in applications for a further £65,000 that was not paid to her. Amisi even featured in a BBC documentary Britain on the Fiddle this March which showed her lavish lifestyle and exposed other wealthy benefit claimants.

The 27-year-old spent some of the cash on her £25,000 handbag collection and luxury holidays to the Congo, Ivory Coast, America, Egypt, Morocco, and Turkey.

After pleading guilty to three counts of fraud in January 2015 at Westminster Magistrates' Court, she cut off her electronic tag and went on the run in Europe for two years.

She was charged with other counts and bank statements showed that when she was due for trial at Southwark Crown Court she had bought Eurostar tickets and booked herself into a hotel in Paris. Two days later she went to the Sheraton hotel in Brussels, which costs more than £100 a night. She also posed on Facebook bragging about her travels to the Congo and Istanbul.

When local authorities discovered the fraud the genuine tenants, who had nothing to do with it, were evicted. While on one trip Amisi spent €2,600 in a Prada outlet. She had Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, YSL, Givenchy and Dolce and Gabbana bags thrown at the bottom of a wardrobe.

Amisi also set up a false fashion company called Le Chateau Dior and used a fake name Tania Westwood to claim against Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) agents carried out surveillance on Amisi after she tried to cash phony cheques and discovered thousands of pounds being paid into her account by councils across London.

She was also known as Tania Abidi, Becca Amisi and Tania Alicia with seven different credit cards linked to these four aliases, plus two Congolese passports.

When the DWP raided her Chelsea Harbour home they found full length pictures of her in designer dresses on the wall and she had posing for photshoots which were posted on Instagram.

Amisi made thousands every month from each council, submitting 37 claims against 22 councils - 21 of which were in London. The fraudster claimed she earned the money to pay for her lifestyle by working in a minimum wage job at a local betting shop.

Amisi was pregnant with her fourth child when she was finally arrested in Paris in July after a European Arrest Warrant was issued. She was extradited to Britain and will give birth in prison.

She was convicted in her absence of a further 17 fraud offences between September 2008 and December 2014 plus one charge of skipping bail.

Southwark Crown Court heard the frauds were "an addiction" and she spent some of the money on a Cartier watch and Christian Dior clothes.

Amisi came to the UK from the Congo as an asylum seeker aged around 12 after her father was assassinated, the court heard.

Amit Karia prosecuting said: "She was arrested in France and taken to the airport before extradition to Britain. She has been in custody since July 25. The two addresses in Chelsea Harbour were raided and £25,000 worth of designer handbags were found at the properties. From this large sum of money stolen from this benefit fraud, she did live a lavish lifestyle and squandered that large quantity of money."

Judge Michael Grieve QC jailed her for a total of four years for all 21 offences.

He said: "After entering those three guilty pleas, you fled to the continent of Europe between February and May 2015 until you were arrested in Paris in July 2017. The methods used to commit these frauds involved careful planning and an ever increasing degree of complexity, involving false names and forged bank documents. This fraud continued for a six-year period against some 20 councils and in addition to the £244,000 you claimed, a total of £65,000 in unsuccessful claims were made.

"The nature of this offending was fraudulent from the outset and committed to fund your lavish and extremely comfortable lifestyle. This was not a case of a person in dire financial straits submitting to temptation and making fraudulent claims to get by. You committed these offences to fund your very affluent lifestyle on holidays, restaurants and designer handbags and clothes.

"You had a flat in Chelsea paid for by your fraudulent activities and your son had all the material benefits he could want. Once discovered you could not face up to the consequences and you fled to mainland Europe until you were brought back. There's very little evidence you have shown any remorse before you went to ground in Paris."

Amisi was also ordered to pay a statutory victim surcharge and the Department of Work and Pensions will seek a court order to reclaim the money stolen.

Source with pictures

27 Oct 2017

Illegal immigrants in social housing fraud

A former Erith resident has been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment after she pretended to be homeless to gain accommodation. (h/t TenancyFraud)

Annebel Nwanebi, formerly of Pembroke Road, did not have legal status in the UK, but fraudulently claimed to be the homeless partner of Charles Douglas, a European national entitled to housing.

The case was heard at the Inner London Crown Court in August.

Sentencing, Judge Wright QC said it was a "sophisticated and enduring fraud" recognising that "social housing is in short supply in London and your actions deprived a family of that."

Ms Nwanebi had approached the London Borough of Bexley for housing in August 2014, claiming that she, her partner, Charles Douglas, and their family were homeless, having been evicted from their previous privately rented accommodation.

They were given temporary accommodation in Dartford.

In April 2015, Ms Nwsanebi and Mr Douglas were nominated for a newly-built home in Erith Park estate, but an employee of Orbit housing association suspected their case was fraud and investigated with council officers.

On visiting the temporary accommodation, the tenancy fraud officer found Ms Nwanebi living there with her husband and son – not with Mr Douglas.

During the investigation, there was no trace of Mr Douglas. His identity and status as an EEA national was being used to get social housing because Ms Nwanebi and her husband did not have a legal status in the UK.

Cabinet member for adult services, Councillor Brad Smith, said: “By passing down a custodial sentence, the Judge in this case has sent a clear message to anyone who thinks they can obtain accommodation illegally. We won’t think twice about prosecuting anyone who takes away the chance of a home for a law abiding family who are in genuine need.”

Ms Nwanebi was found guilty of making false representations to obtain accommodation and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.

Andrew Meyer, head of housing at Orbit, said: “The sentence given is reflective of the deception committed by Ms Nwanebi and sends out a strong message to anyone contemplating a similar act."

Source

8 Aug 2017

Immigrant benefit thief gets trivial sentence

A benefits cheat scammed £102,000 over six years to pay for her daughters to go to a private school.

Somali-born Shukri Yusuf, 45, posed as a struggling single mum to claim income support, housing benefit and council tax cash. But investigators found she was married to bus driver Omar Tarab.

Yusuf arrived in Britain in 1999.

She carried out her con in Southall, West London, from June 2008 to April 2014 and used some of the cash to buy a car.

She was due to stand trial at Isleworth crown court but at the start of the hearing changed her plea and admitted failing to notify Ealing council of changes to her circumstances.

Judge Jonathan Perkins jailed her for six months, suspended for two years, and ordered her to complete 175 hours of community work.

Judge Perkins told her: “These crimes funded a lifestyle, big luxuries like a car and private school fees. Your husband is a bus driver and his income was never declared.”

One of the daughters is now at teacher training college and the other is finishing sixth-form studies.

Last night the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Cases like this show how hard our investigators are working. We are seeking to recover the full amount of the overpayment and, if applicable, impose confiscation orders.”

What this case does show is that you can rob taxpayers for over six years before anyone notices, and then get away with a trivial punishment.

Ealing Council refused to comment.

Source with pictures

29 Apr 2017

Jail for wealthy Pakistani benefit fraud couple

A wealthy Pakistani couple who fraudulently claimed £40,000 a year in benefits after claiming asylum in Britain were jailed six months apart so their children didn’t have to be taken into care.

Syed Zaidi, 41, and his wife Rizwana Kamal, 40, claimed asylum seekers’ benefit, child tax and working tax credits and child benefits for their three children – on top of free accommodation – worth £150,000, despite having more than £250,000 in the bank.

The university graduates claimed they were being persecuted in their native Pakistan and urged the Home Office to give them shelter, claiming £150,000 worth of handouts. They splashed out on two cars and moved into a Victorian terraced house in Denton, near Manchester, but were caught after a tip-off to the Home Office. It is thought they won the right to stay in the UK during their four-year scam between 2012 and 2016.

At Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester Judge Bernard Lever jailed the couple for ten months each after they admitted benefit fraud. But in an unusual move he delayed locking up Kamal until this week, after her husband was released having served half his sentence. It means their children will not be taken into care at further expense to the taxpayer.

Prosecutor John Wilcox told the court that £258,530 was left unaccounted for in the pair’s seven bank accounts.

The couple – believed to have entered the UK on Kamal’s student visa – were denied legal aid because of their huge savings, and represented themselves in court. Kamal begged Judge Lever to spare her jail, but he said he had to send a “powerful message” to the couple and other fraudsters.

Kamal said: “The children have been coming home from school upset, and they are all out of character and they are much more attached to me. This has been such a big lesson for us and it is a big embarrassment for this to have happened. Please don’t take me away from my children – they won’t be able to cope.”

But Judge Lever said: “This is a tragic case for your children because you and your husband both graduated university, you had thousands of pounds in the bank and you have claimed hardworking taxpayers’ money.”

Source with pictures

Despicable