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

2 Nov 2018

Immigrant benefits fraudster had four jobs

A benefits scrounger who pocketed almost £30,000 in handouts while holding down four jobs has gone free after a judge agreed to let him pay the money back - over the next 11 years.

Rassul Kadir, 31, claimed incapacity benefit for his 'bad back' and said he was unfit for work - yet worked at a grocery firm, a cake-makers, a job agency and a vitamins company.

His scam went on for four years after he was quizzed following a tip-off.

He claimed he did not realise he had done anything wrong as did not understand English or the UK benefits system.

At Preston Crown Court, Kadir, from Blackpool, admitted two charges of fraudulently failing to disclose information about his work to the DWP and one of making a false statement to claim Council Tax Benefit.

He was given a 30-week jail sentence suspended for 12 months after Judge Beverley Lunt said he could pay back the remaining money at £175 a month. It means the sum may not be fully paid back until May 2030.

He has already paid back £3,000 after opening his own car wash. Former Afghan asylum seeker Kadir had arrived in the UK with his father when he was 16 in 2003 after they fled the Taliban and moved to Preston before settling in Blackpool.

Prosecuting, Fiona McNeill, said: 'The defendant claimed £28,979 in benefits over the course of four years. He was in receipt of income benefit between April 6, 2008, and May 1 2012. He said he was sick as and unable to work due to a back complaint.

'During this time, he held down a number of jobs. At first, he was working on a temporary basis with a company through the Best Connections group. He was a temporary worker, working on a transient basis, not a permanent one.

'Between August 2009 and May 2012, he worked for the Palmer and Harvey wholesale grocers, a cake maker at Lathams and he was packing vitamins at the Nutrition Group.

'He was arrested following an investigation by the Department for Work and Pensions. In interview with the police, he was at first reluctant to accept his failings, but once it had been explained to him he did accept that he was at fault. He was interviewed twice - once in February 2017 and and again in March 2017.

'He stopped claiming benefits around October 2013 after declaring himself self-employed.'

In interview Kadir at first denied doing any paid work but when confronted with evidence admitted what he had done claiming he did not understand the claims system or understand English.

Judge Beverley Lunt told him: 'I am going to pass a suspended sentence for this.If he is actually earning money now and paying it back, then that’s better than paying back through benefits.

'I think a sentence of 30 weeks custody suspended for 12 months would be appropriate. I also take into account the previous good character and the fact that he stopped claiming benefits.

'What you did, Mr Kadir, was very wrong, you obtained money that you were not entitled to. But you stopped this a while ago and have now set up your own business and are paying back into the system.

'It must be a prison sentence so people realise how serious benefit fraud is, but I am going to suspend that sentence. I am also making a compensation order for you to pay back £25,000 at £175 a month. You must keep out of trouble, Mr Kadir, or you will be back before the court and likely go to prison.'

The judge declined to hear mitigation but at an earlier hearing Kadir’s lawyer Gerry Coyle said his client had fled Afghanistan with his father because of the Taliban regime.

Mr Coyle added: 'He was 16 at the time and very inexperienced when it came to living in the UK. He now realises he did the wrong thing and found himself in a lot of lumber.

'He has since turned his life round and has a car wash business which employs six people. He has started to repay the money he had on a monthly basis.'

Source

6 Aug 2018

Sweden calling

A 40-year-old Iraqi woman has now been caught after she fraudulently received a large amount in Swedish benefits while living in her home country.

The woman did not report to the authorities that she moved to Iraq and continued to receive Swedish social benefits.

The offence took place from summer 2013 to summer 2017. Investigators at the Swedish Social Insurance Fund were sent a 66-page document about the suspect.

She reported incorrect information and received housing allowance, parental allowance, child allowance and childbirth allowance, a total of 521,037 Swedish crowns (around 50,000 euros), despite returning to Iraq,” says police spokesman Richard Glantz.

It is currently unknown how the woman will repay her fraudulently received benefits.

I think we can guess.

Source

10 May 2018

Our wide open benefits system

A failed Algerian asylum seeker who used five fake identities to fraudulently claim £370,000 in benefits has been jailed for five years.

Saif Boudemagh, 41, used a forged French identity card to illegally enter the UK in March, 2000 but his asylum appeal failed.

Boudemagh continued to appeal and eventually obtained residency in 2004, two years after marrying UK citizen Paula Boudemagh.

The father-of-one, was given a one-bed council flat in Upper Holloway, London and immediately began claiming benefits once he received his National Insurance number.

He claimed to be the carer of his wife and since February, 2009 claimed Income Support as single-parent of their son, now aged fourteen years-old.

The bogus claimant who received full British citizenship in October, 2007 was convicted of twelve counts of fraud by a Blackfriars Crown Court jury totalling £370,000.

As well as his own bogus applications Boudemagh made up people and claimed benefits for them.

Between June, 2007 and April, 2015 he made multiple claims using fake French identities for Housing Benefit.

He used the same names to apply for council tax benefits, income support, carer's allowance, incapacity benefit, employment support allowance, (ESA) and disability living allowance, (DLA).

He pocketed £16,798 for looking after non-existent friend called Jamel Bensaid, 42, whose id was used to get a staggering £174,000 in various benefits.

Benefit claims were made in the name of Sidhamad Ayad, 39. This identity netted the con artist a £41,746 in employment support benefits after Boudemagh concocted a bogus tale this claimant needed a walking stick and toilet hand rails. Another £14,251 was paid out in disability living allowance for the same man and £22,519 was given in housing benefit.

He also used fake French identity documents to make benefit claims in name of Allel Zerabib, 44, and Taric Ziad, 45, and 'hijacked' the genuine identity of Frenchwoman Nadia Regad, 42.

The married mum-of-two was living in Paris, but her identity was used to claim £4,235 as a carer for 'Mr Zerabib' who received £25,000 in disability benefits. This bogus identity was also exploited to collect £46,000 in housing benefit and council tax benefit.

Boudemagh pocketed a further £14,626 in DLA using the Ziad identity.

The DWP paid benefits on the basis the claimants had depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, varicose veins, lower back pain and in one case a disabled finger.

He even used a disabled Freedom Pass in a false identity to enjoy free transport around the capital.

Boudemagh's flat was raided on April 7, 2015 and documents were found in the names of the false claimants as well as bank cards for accounts the money was paid into.

Boudemagh told the jury he was innocently completing benefit claim forms as an English-speaker for members of the close-knit north London Algerian community. But it was found the people did not exist.

The prosecution argued its case successfully, having the Algerian convicted on all but five counts.

Prosecutor Mr Andrew Evans said: 'A false French passport was also submitted as proof of identity in support of these claims and the photo on this passport is that of the defendant. His mobile phone number is given as the claimants' contact number.'

The conman's brother Redouane Boudemagh, 46, an illegal immigrant, receiving three years imprisonment for a £218,000 scam last year.

Shockingly, Boudemagh was still in receipt of housing benefit and child tax credits up to the day of his imprisonment, but he will not face confiscation proceedings because no assets have been found. The DWP say the only way they can recover any money is by making small deductions to any benefits he receives after his release.

'This defendant played a leading role in the offending, involving at least one other,' said Mr. Evans. 'It was a sophisticated offence requiring planning and the hijacking of identities to claims benefits and completion of medical evidence.'

Judge Jane Sullivan told him last week: 'It cannot be said you showed remorse. You fought the case in the face of overwhelming evidence.'

Source with pictures

Deportation should beckon. But probably won't.

18 Jan 2018

Polish benefit fraudster took £91,000

A benefits fraudster who cheated the taxpayer out of more than £100,000 has been spared jail.

Burnley Crown Court heard how mother-of-three Agnieszka Pryzbylska fraudulently claimed £91,411 in tax credits from HMRC between April 2011 and August 2016, and £14,722 in housing and council tax benefit from Hyndburn Borough Council between July 2012 and February 2016.

Pryzbylska, who is originally from Eastern Europe, is re-paying the council at a rate of£60-per-month but Judge Beverley Lunt said if that continues it will take her 170 years to settle her debt.

Prosecuting, Julian Goode said Pryzbylska claimed housing benefits on the basis she was a single mother but investigations found she was living with the father of two of her children. Having initially claimed he was gay, Pryzbylska, from Accrington, said the man was going to her house in the early morning to feed her fish.

Mr Goode said Pryzbylska started claiming tax credits legitimately in 2008 as she was on a low income. But the housing benefit and council tax claim was fraudulent from the outset.

Mr Goode said the housing benefits were claimed on the basis that Pryzbylska lived as a single parent. But investigators found she was living with the father of two of her children and he had given her address as the place he was residing to his employers.

Pryzbylska and her husband were also registered as next of kin contact for their two children.The man’s application for a driving licence and TV licence also showed him living at the same address as Pryzbylska. Surveillance showed his vehicle parked outside Pryzbylska’s house late at night and in the early morning.

Mr Goode said: “She was interviewed twice in February and July 2016. She suggested the man was gay and they were not a couple. She did admit he was the father of her two children. In the second interview she provided a tenancy agreement which claimed to show he lived with his brother and not with her. She said he would come round to her address early in the morning to feed her fish.”

Pryzbylska, 38, pleaded guilty to two counts of benefit fraud. Philip Holden, defending, said Pryzbylska is working full-time, earns around £1,200 a month and is of previous good character.

Sentencing Pryzbylska to 20 months imprisonment, but suspending it for 12 months, Judge Lunt told the defendant that she was extremely fortunate not to be going directly to prison.

Judge Lunt said: “This is a lot of money, over £105,000, which you obtained over a period of five years. That’s about £20,000 per year. It was not frittered on high living or gambling.

“Your position has changed. It’s changed for the better. You do still have other debts. You are now working full-time. You’re earning your own money to look after your children. You have not claimed benefits, although you could have claimed some form of benefits while you were waiting for this case to come back before me.

“Anyone who steals this amount of money from the DWP should understand the only possible option is prison. It will be a lengthy sentence in prison. The difference in your case is you’re now earning your own income. You’re paying tax and you’re paying some money back. For those reasons I am prepared to make an exception in your case and suspended the prison sentence.”

Source

30 Dec 2017

Benefit cheat claimed rent for Bolton house he owned

A benefit cheat continued to claim thousands of pounds to cover rent for a house he had already bought.

Anil Kala began legitimately claiming benefits in September, 2013, but the following year large amounts of cash began going through his bank account.

Craig Macgregor, prosecuting, told Bolton Crown Court that between March, 2014 and September, 2016 around £155,000 was paid into 42-year-old Kala's account. The maximum amount of capital allowed to be held by benefit claimants is £16,000.

When questioned by investigators Kala initially claimed the money had been given to him by his mother who had sold some jewellery and then stated that she had sold land in India in order for him to buy a house.

But the court heard that the money had been paid into Kala's account in numerous small amounts from locations in Southern England and Wales.

Kala bought the home he had been renting for £125,000, but still kept on claiming £350 universal credit payments towards renting it.

Mr Macgregor said that, in total, Kala wrongly claimed a total of £18,137.22 he was not entitled to.

Kala pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to notify a change of circumstances and making false representations to obtain benefits.

Nicholas Ross, defending, stressed Kala has health issues and long-standing problems with gambling and alcohol.

Sentencing Kala to six months in prison, suspended for two years, Judge Richard Gioserano told him: "I am not sure I am prepared to accept this money was coming from your mother. Over quite a period of time you ended up with over £18,000 of public money you should not have had."

Kala must also wear an electronic tag for four months and be subject to a 9pm to 7am curfew as well as participating in 25 days of rehabilitation activities.

A proceeds of crime hearing will be held in April next year in order to attempt to recover the money he wrongly took.

Source

A weak sentence for a deliberate crime, and as the judge hinted there is more to Mr Kala's finances than meets the eye.

As with all assets benefit frauds, he should have to pay back at least twice what he stole.

17 Dec 2017

Immigrant benefit thief stole £38,000

A Somali refugee scammed nearly £39,000 in benefits after secretly returning home because he missed the sunshine.

Mohamed Qoomaal, 72, claimed asylum here 15 years ago claiming he feared for his life in his native country. But in 2013 he sneaked back to Somalia and had his pension credit payments wired to him there. He also let a friend live rent-free in his council-funded flat in Harrow, North West London.

The fraud came to light only when DWP investigators wrote to his Harrow address asking to see him.

Qoomaal’s pal alerted him and he returned from his home in Jidhi to meet with them early last year. He tried to hoodwink investigators with a fake immigration stamp on his passport but the game was up.

Qoomaal was jailed for 15 months after admitting two counts of dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstances regarding pension credit and housing benefits from August 2013 to February 2016.

He had been continuing to receive benefits, albeit reduced by £44 a week, while his case was pending. He also demanded a taxpayer-funded interpreter during eight hearings at Isleworth crown court.

Judge Jonathan Ferris spoke of his shock at how the scam had been allowed to succeed. He said: “He came here as a refugee 15 years ago and then goes back to Somalia to enjoy the nice weather. How does that work? I don’t see why a person who took nearly £39,000, went to another country and fabricated an immigration stamp on his passport should not go to prison immediately. What ties does he have in this country apart from the benefits system?”

Qoomaal’s defence lawyer said his client went to live in a warmer climate for health reasons but he had since suffered two heart attacks in two years.

The DWP said it would find anyone who abuses the system. It added: “Fraudsters divert support from those who need it the most.”

Source with pictures

Anyone granted asylum who then visits their homeland should have their asylum withdrawn.

Send him home at the end of his sentence.

30 Jan 2017

Soft touch UK

A Turkish pensioner who was handed a council house and £177,000 in benefits after pretending to be Scottish is facing arrest after she failed to turn up for sentence.

Wheelchair-bound Catherine Maloney, who claims to be 62, first applied for asylum in the UK in 2002 under her Turkish name Katrin Butun. The application was rejected, she appealed the decision but lost.

Maloney then ‘remembered’ she had been born in Scotland in 2004 and produced a birth certificate in the name of Catherine Lynch – believed to be a Scottish ex-pat. She later changed her name by deed poll to Catherine Bridget Maloney and applied for a UK passport.

Maloney successfully applied for a council house on Bramley Hill, South Croydon, and pocketed £177,000 in income support allowance, housing benefit, council tax benefit and disability living allowance between April 2004 and July 2015.

The Turk, who is thought to be much older than 62, was arrested following an investigation by the Department of Work and Pensions and was convicted of three counts of dishonest representation to obtain a benefit in August last year.

Maloney, who speaks no English, refused to give evidence at her trial. She claims to not be able to pay back any of the money despite allegedly owning properties in Bodrum, Turkey.

Since her conviction she has been staying in the Gresham psychiatric ward in Beckenham, part of the Bethlem Royal Hospital, at the expense of the taxpayer, but it is unclear what her symptoms are.

Maloney was due to be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court today but refused to leave the ward.

Judge Owen Davies QC issued a warrant for Maloney’s arrest and said: ‘I know it is distasteful sending a woman to prison who is in a wheelchair but I do not believe a word she says. This case is going back some time now, I should at least find out from a doctor what her state of health is, or was, or might be. It is alleged she has properties in Bodrum in Turkey. There is no report of how she will repay the £177,000 not to mention the cost to the public of the care home where she currently resides is still outstanding.’

Speaking at an earlier hearing Judge Davies said: ‘This is a woman who has got no right to be in the country, has been here for many years at the public’s expense and has been convicted without her giving evidence at all in relation to a large amount of public funds.'

Source

6 Jun 2016

Nigerian benefit thief escapes jail for second offence

A Nigerian illegal immigrant has avoided jail despite falsely claiming £50,000 in benefits to pay off the people smugglers who got her into Britain. (h/t Dave)

Linda Okungowa, 36, of Sheffield, who arrived in the UK on a false passport 12 years ago, claimed the money in destitution and child benefits despite working under false identities.

But the mother-of-three received a suspended sentence in an ‘amazing display of mercy’ after it emerged she had support from a church which was protecting her from committing more crime. The decision by Judge Simon Lawler QC came five years after Okungowa was sent to prison for eight months for using false documents to obtain work while claiming £70,000 in benefits.

Okungowa arrived in Britain believing she would be able to train as a doctor, but instead became entrenched in a mounting debt cycle with the traffickers who helped her get in. She said the smugglers kept increasing the amount they said she owed them and she was left so destitute her children were forced to walk 12 miles a day to school in Sheffield because the family could not afford the bus fare. Okungowa also ended up working multiple jobs in a bid to keep up with the repayments.

12 Miles a day twice a day? I doubt it!

Neil Coxon, prosecuting, said that after getting out of prison in 2011, she took on the identity of a friend in London while applying for work.

After getting several jobs in the care sector she asked the woman if the wages could be paid into her bank account and transferred to Okungowa. Mr Coxon said Okungowa told the woman she could not be paid directly due to debts associated with her account.

Between July 2011 and August 2014, Okungowa had claimed £22,610 in destitution benefits, and £26,201 in child tax credits and working tax credits between June 2011 and January 2015.

At Sheffield Crown Court, Judge Lawler said the exceptional circumstances of the case meant he wouldn’t be sending her straight to prison. He added: ‘I may be criticised because fraud from the public purse is common and everybody in this court knows usually the offender goes immediately to custody. But in this particular case I can see no useful purpose to the public in sending you to custody. I hope you repay the trust the court has placed in you.’

Okungowa, who has three children aged one, nine and 11, said after the case: ‘I’m not proud of the things I have done but I have been given a chance.’

She's had all her children after coming to the UK.

An investigation will now be carried out into Okungowa’s finances to see if she can pay any of the money back. She received an 18-month prison sentence suspended for two years.

Ben Hudd, the minister at The Ark church in Sheffield, which supported her, said: ‘It was a balance between justice and mercy. We saw an amazing display of mercy. Although justice was done with the sentence, the judge had mercy on Linda because of all the things she has dealt with in her life. It was the perfect way forward.’

Source

26 Oct 2015

Benefit thief told to repay £200,000

A woman must pay back over £200,000 following an investigation by Thurrock Council’s counter fraud team into benefit fraud.

Of that, over £46,000 must go to the council to repay benefits fraudulently received and over £43,000 to be used by the council to fight and investigate similar cases.

Eniah Nhika, 43, of Belmont Road, Grays, a Zimbabwean national, first applied for housing and council tax benefit from Thurrock Council in December 2013.

Following an investigation, she was arrested at home and a number of items were seized that later became evidence in the case. Council financial investigators obtained an order from the Crown Court restraining her assets in December 2013.

The court heard how, during the investigation, officers uncovered evidence of benefit fraud dating back to 1999 when Nhika first claimed benefits from Hackney Council.

Officers also identified benefit fraud offences, identity document offences, and a fraudulent right to buy purchase of a Hackney Council flat leading to a Magistrates’ Court summons in May 2014.

She admitted nine out of ten offences at Basildon Magistrates Court and the matter was committed to Basildon Crown Court for sentencing where she received a suspended sentence and was ordered to complete unpaid community work.

The council’s confiscation investigation discovered Nhika was receiving money from rental income in breach of the restraint order, leading further summonses and in July this year she was convicted of contempt of court and received a further four months suspended sentence.

A determined fraudster who doesn't care. But the system seems determined not to give her proper punishment.

Following the detailed confiscation investigation, on October 14 at Basildon Crown Court the following confiscation order was made: benefit from criminal conduct £371,173.72; available amount: £216,153; confiscation order £216,153.

Of that figure £32,061.17 goes to HMRC; £22,160.84 to the DWP; and £46,593 to Thurrock Council. Judge Jonathan Lodge allowed the maximum three months to pay and if it is not paid, Nhika faces a further 30-month prison sentence in addition to the sentence already handed down for the fraud offences.

HHJ Lodge expressed his thanks to Thurrock Council’s for the quality and professionalism of its investigation and its presentation of the facts.

The remaining money goes into the Home Office Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme and Thurrock Council will receive a further 18.75% of it as the investigating agency, and 18.75% as the Proceeds of Crime Act agency – funds which, by law, has to be used to “fight crime”.

Source

26 May 2015

Hundreds of Bangladeshis flew into Britain for one day to claim benefit

A charity trustee has been charged with a fraud offence after a huge benefits racket probe involving hundreds of Bangladeshi migrants with European Union passports.

Asma Khanam, 46, of Newbury Park, east London, who is involved with relief organisation Families for Survival UK, was among 13 people arrested as part of the investigation.

The racket is said to involve fraudsters making one-day trips from Italy to attend interviews at Jobcentres for National Insurance numbers.

Families for Survival’s offices in Ilford, east London, were searched by investigators and documents and computers were seized.

The arrests follow an investigation by the Department for Work and Pensions and Redbridge Council into a scam which is thought to have cost taxpayers millions of pounds. It could be one of the largest organised benefits frauds ever uncovered in Britain.

Bangladesh-born migrants alleged to be involved in the racket have arrived in the UK over the past three years after getting EU citizenship in Italy. They are accused of making false housing benefit claims to local councils after obtaining national insurance numbers and moving into new homes. Bogus wage slips were allegedly produced to help with their applications.

Last year Essex Police reported a significant number of Bangladesh-born migrants with Italian passports arriving at London Stansted Airport from Italy. They were armed with appointment letters to attend interviews at job centres in London to obtain National Insurance numbers and had return flights tickets for the same day.

The DWP later identified up to 400 applications for National Insurance numbers had been received from the same address in Bow, east London. The address was one of a number visited during last Tuesday's police operation.

Families for Survival UK is alleged to be one of at least five organisations which provided fraudsters with fake employment details. Two directors of other companies, including a recruitment firm, were also arrested. A number of the companies are alleged not to be trading. Under Government rules, EU nationals are only allowed to claim housing benefit in Britain if they can prove they work here.

Redbridge Council, which has worked alongside the DWP and the Metropolitan Police’s financial investigation unit, is the first council whose probe into the fraud has led to arrests.

The authority’s housing benefits investigation team was first alerted to the alleged fraud last summer after a large number of benefit applications were received from Italian nationals of Bangladesh origin, all claiming they earned around £156 a week. According to the charity's annual report, it was last year chosen by Sainsbury’s as a support charity and declared income of £316,000 in grants and donations. Nobody from Families for Survival UK was available for comment.

Two of those arrested, Khanam and 35-year-old KM Habibur Rahman, a former director of a company called Crystal Job Limited, were charged with conspiracy to defraud. They appeared at Redbridge Magistrates’ Court last Wednesday. Both were released on conditional bail.

Eight other suspects arrested are alleged to have made fake housing benefit claims and have been charged with offences under Section 2 of the Fraud Act. They are due to appear in court this week. Other migrants alleged to be involved in the scam are expected to be questioned over the coming weeks.

Councillor Kam Rai, Redbridge Council’s cabinet member for finance and resources, said: ‘This fraud was detected late last year. Since then our own benefit fraud team has been painstakingly investigating to collect the evidence and this success is a direct result of their very hard work. When people commit fraud against the council, they steal from you, your friends, family and the community. Fraud takes money away from vital services and impacts on us all.’

A council spokesman said it expects thousands of pounds in housing benefit will be saved each week thanks to the investigation.
  • So many migrants used a small East London flat to milk housing benefits that they had to spill out onto the street, neighbours claim.

    The tiny apartment in Bow is above an Italian restaurant and was allegedly used by migrants over a three-year period.

    One worker at a courier service East End Logistics based next door described how the flat saw a huge turnover of different people coming and going over the years:
    We have been seeing quite a few people there in the last year or so - people walking in and out. Every day people were coming and going. The people couldn’t all fit in the flat so they would have to gather outside. At the time we thought they might have opened a job or recruitment centre there. It was mainly people of 20 years old and upwards to about 50, people from different backgrounds. One obstacle for us is all of the people gathering outside of our door and making it uncomfortable for our customers. We were always wondering what they were doing until we read the newspapers and saw the police come around.
Source

19 May 2015

Light sentence for immigrant benefit cheat

A mother of five who wrongly claimed more than £100,000 in benefit payments has been spared jail.

Despite only admitting her guilt halfway through her trial, the judge told Nazma Hoque (38) her guilty plea had been taken into consideration when handing out a suspended 12-month prison sentence. He didn’t order costs against her.

Hoque, of Sherwood Street, Oldham, had applied for Income Support, housing and council tax benefits in 2002 when she said her husband had deserted her.

Manchester Crown Court was told she had frequently been warned she was obliged to report changes in circumstances, but didn’t.

She had two more children by Shufiqul Hoque in 2003 and 2005, and they lived as man and wife in Sherwood Street, Oldham from at least 2007. One family member said she wasn’t even aware there had been a split.

An investigation was launched when Hoque contacted the the Department for Work and Pensions in 2012, reporting a reconciliation - four days after her sister-in-law had been arrested on suspicion of benefit fraud.

Judge Leslie Hull said: “That was an acknowledgement by you that you had dishonestly claimed benefits by not telling the relevant authorities your husband had returned to you.”

The inquiry revealed a paper trail of official letters and documents linking delivery driver and waiter Mr Hoque to the Sherwood Street house.

Nazma Hoque pleaded not guilty benefit fraud and failing to inform changes in her circumstances at her trial in March. The proceedings halted when, on the day her defence was due to begin, she admitted the two counts of failing to notify changes.

Hoque received £103,000 over a decade. Had she been honest she would have been eligible for around £59,000 - making her liable for almost £44,000.

Judge Hull told her if she hadn’t changed her pleas, and had been convicted, she would have been jailed.

Hoque, who came to Britain for an arranged marriage in 1994 and struggles to understand English, said she had dishonoured herself and her family.

Well, she managed to live with that for ten years.

Her children aged between nine and 19 are said to have been badly affected by her trial and publicity surrounding it.

She will be subject to a nightly curfew for four months and has been ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work. An application for £10,000 costs against her was adjourned indefinitely.

Source - and outraged comments

14 May 2015

Immigrant stole over £30k in benefits

A car valeter dishonestly pocketed more than £30,000 in benefits in a fraud spanning almost five years, Bradford Crown Court heard.

Ako Salih claimed the money while working self-employed for two periods, between July 2007 and May 2013.

Salih came to the UK from Iraq in 2002 and was granted indefinite leave to stay.

He pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to eight offences of benefit fraud, totalling £30,874, prosecutor Emma Downing told the court.

She said the claims related to Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, Job Seeker's Allowance and Employment Support Allowance.

Source

1 Mar 2015

Illegal immigrant jailed for £100k benefit fraud

An illegal migrant who swindled almost £100,000 of taxpayers’ cash in benefits while evading authorities for 14 years has been jailed for four years.

Lillian Wade, 55, arrived at Gatwick airport from Jamaica in 1999 but was granted only temporary admission.

However, a court heard she stayed on and fraudulently obtained two British passports.

In 2000 she started work as a cleaner at Sandwell Council in the West Midlands under the false name of Yvette Logan.

During her four-year employment she earned £30,000 before she quit due to an injury.

Wade, who lived in Tipton, went on to collect £99,729 in incapacity benefit, income support, employment and support allowance and disability living allowance.

Her applications prompted the Department for Work and Pensions to contact a British woman, also called Yvette Logan, from London, who had claimed benefits, the court heard.

The DWP initially believed there was a mix-up and issued Wade with a new National Insurance number.

She then fraudulently obtained a second passport in the name of Katherine Dunnaway.

By 2013 suspicions were raised and police asked to see her passport.

She handed over the fake passport in the name of Yvette Logan but was not arrested until last November after the DWP carried out an inquiry.

At Wolverhampton Crown Court, Wade admitted cheating the public revenue and obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception by falsely saying she was a British citizen.

Wade also pleaded guilty on Wednesday to being in possession of an identity document with improper intention and possession of a false identity document with intent.

Sentencing her, Judge Helen Hughes said: “You knew you shouldn’t be in this country.”

Howard Searle, prosecuting, said Wade would probably be deported after her sentence.

Source

19 Jan 2015

Benefit claimant with false identity gets 18 months in jail

A man with two identities who falsely claimed more than £61,000 in Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the London Borough of Wandsworth has been sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to eight counts of fraud and two counts of using false identity documents. (h/t A Reader)

Mr Hassan Samrani (45) had claimed benefit on two properties in Kensington and Chelsea using the name Noureddine Belaidi, as well as claiming on a property in Wandsworth, declaring himself to be the sole recipient of benefit.

Suspicions arose after council officers received information from the Metropolitan Police which had successfully prosecuted Samrani for being in possession of a false French passport in the name of Noureddine Belaidi. Documentation received during the police investigation showed Belaidi was in fact Mr Hassan Samrani, a Moroccan national.

Subsequently, Council investigators obtained witness statements and documentation from the Metropolitan Police and Mr Samrani was interviewed under caution on 27 November 2013, with officers from Wandsworth Council present. During the interview he accepted his real name was Hassan Samrani.

Following an investigation Samrani was summonsed by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in respect of the offences on behalf of both boroughs

On the 24 October 2014 Mr Samrani, who had pleaded not guilty at a previous hearing, changed his plea to guilty on all counts at Isleworth Crown Court.

The case took eleven months from the interview to come to court.

In sentencing Samrani His Honour Judge Denniss stated that the offences had taken considerable planning including paying for a false ID, passport and driving licence.

The court heard in mitigation that Mr Samrani had sought to regularise his immigration status and now has four children with his wife and also stepchildren.

In summing up Judge Denniss indicated that his starting point for sentencing was 24-months in custody. However, he gave Samrani limited credit for changing his plea to guilty and sentenced him to 18-months imprisonment to run concurrently on all counts.

Source

6 Nov 2014

Arrested in 2012, court in late 2014

Two illegal immigrants who conned the Government into allowing them to stay in Britain as asylum seekers and claimed £130,000 in benefits just by changing their names face jail today. (h/t A Reader)

Mohammed Zakariya Wadiwala, 42, and wife Zenabbibi, 44, used a false identities to claim asylum in the UK from India in 2007 before claiming handouts for themselves and their five children.

The couple landed in Britain under the bogus name Sheikh instead of Wadiwali, meaning the family's asylum case has 'dragged on for years', Preston Crown Court heard. Prosecutors say had their real name been known to the authorities they would have been deported back to their homeland within a 'matter of months'.

The couple claimed they had lost all their documentation and were in danger if they returned to India.

While their asylum case rumbled on they claimed up to £2,000 a month over almost six years to house and feed themselves and their family. In all they pocketed £134,438 worth of benefits before being arrested following an investigation in 2012.

At Preston Crown Court the couple, of Blackburn, Lancashire, spoke through an Urdu interpreter to plead guilty to fraud linked to false identities and claiming financial support, and were told they face jail.

Granting both unconditional bail until sentencing next month Judge Ian Leeming QC said:
Rather than a speedy refusal of asylum, the matter dragged on for years during which time more benefits and advantaged accrued - on the face of it £134,438 worth of benefits. The court is keeping all its sentencing options open. It seems clear that some form of custody will be appropriate.
If they are jailed they will serve their sentence and then most likely be deported.

Earlier the court heard how Wadiwala, a Muslim had married his wife, a Hindu, in 2003, claimed they had to flee to Britain fearing persecution - after one of their children was killed due the cultural differences.

They arrived in the UK with two children but Wadiwala illegally used the name Jakir Sheikh - which he had previously used in India - and claimed Mrs Wadiwala as a 'dependent'.

It is thought the couple then went on to have more children as his claim for asylum was processed.

The prosecution told the court: 'It's a fraud. When he arrived he gave the name of Jakir Sheikh and claimed Mrs Wadiwala as a dependent. She became the main claimant. It's a joint enterprise. When he arrived, he arrived on proper documentation then adopted Sheikh for his asylum claim. Had Mr and Mrs Wadiwala claimed asylum under their own names the claim would have been fast tracked and dealt with within a matter of months. When they arrived in this country from India they had their own passports in their own names, because the data was available the checks could have been made with India very quickly. They would have been deported within a matter of months. For a matter of months they would have been entitled to benefits. Because they said they had lost all the identity documents it took much, much longer.'

Wadiwala pleaded guilty to making a false representation to an immigration officer that his name was Jakir Sheikh and he had come to the UK to seek asylum enabling him to obtain financial and other support. He also admitted possession of false identity documents with intent and possession of a NASS card used to establish registered facts about himself.

His wife pleaded guilty to possessing false identity documents with intent, possessing a NASS card used to establish registered facts about herself and making a false representation to an immigration officer that her name was Shabnam Sheikh and she had come to the UK to seek asylum enabling her to obtain financial and other support.

The offences took place between August 2007 and December 2012.

Wadiwala's counsel Kenneth Hind said that his client had changed his name in India in order to avoid persecution and came to the UK on a passport in his 'birth name.' He added that it was accepted that he should have used his name Wadiwala and said neither the immigration authorities or the Indian authorities were able to identify Mr and Mrs Sheikh.

Through the translator Wadiwala said of his wife: 'The result of her changing her faith led to the killing of one of my children. They tried to kill us both and tried to kidnap her. The Hindu family turning to the religion of Islam is not welcome and people do not accept it. There is a huge risk. As a result of conversions in India there are many examples where girls have been killed as a result. I wanted to save my children and and my wife and I had no choice but to change my name at deed poll and as a result fled India. The reason why there's a change because I was threatened, my life was under threat. People had attempted to kill me.'

He said he went to Mumbai but that persecutors found him. He added that he came to the UK to 'save my life'.

Pictures

19 Oct 2014

Jail for 10 year benefit fraudster

A Bedford fraudster has been handed an 18-month prison sentence for stealing more than £43,000 in housing and council tax benefit.

Emanuella Khamis, formerly of St Michael’s Road in Bedford, appeared at Luton Crown Court for sentencing. She had been held on remand since May after being arrested when she visited Bedford Borough Council’s customer service centre.

Khamis was found guilty of all 18 charges of dishonestly making false representations in order to obtain benefits. She had failed to declare that she held savings of £75,000 in an undeclared bank account and also that this money had been transferred out of the country to an account in Iraq.

The deception was uncovered by the council’s fraud investigations department when a member of the financial assessment team queried how Khamis had managed to purchase her flat in St Michael’s Road while receiving benefits.

The investigation uncovered Khamis’ ISA which had never been declared and that she also received some money following the sale of a property in Baghdad, cash she used to purchase the St Michael’s Road property which was then subsequently sold. Khamis stated that the funds from this sale were sent direct to her brother in Baghdad, which later transpired to be untrue.

In total, Khamis stole £36,777.83 in housing benefit and £6,358.025 in council tax benefit between November 2002 and April 2012.

After failing to attend three hearings – two at Luton Magistrates’ Court and one at Luton Crown Court – a warrant was issued for her arrest. When she was apprehended in May at the council’s customer service centre, Khamis was then remanded in custody until the trial.

Khamis pleaded not guilty and opted for a trial by jury which took place over three days in September. The jury found her guilty on all 18 counts and she was again remanded in custody until sentencing.

In sentencing Khamis, Recorder Cane said:
The explanation given by you was clearly and rightly rejected by the jury. You have shown no remorse and had no engagement with probation services and so will receive an 18-month custodial sentence.
More

30 Sep 2014

Asylum seekers sub-let London flats

Former Iraqi asylum seekers have been raking in millions of pounds by illegally sub-letting luxury London flats paid for by taxpayers.

The housing benefit claimants have been funded by the state to stay in lavish apartments in some of the capital’s wealthiest addresses. But rather than living there, the claimants have been renting them out to super-rich tourists for thousands of pounds a week.

In one case, a family of six – who cannot be named for legal reasons – were being given £500 a week housing benefit to live in a £1 million flat near Hyde Park, which they then let out for up to £3,000 a week.

Last week investigators swooped on 21 benefits cheats – the majority of whom were identified as Iraqi Kurds – at four expensive apartment blocks. They included Forest Court, a grand, nine-storey 1930s mansion building, and the Art Deco development Park West, both less than half a mile from Marble Arch. Properties in both blocks come with 24-hour security, manicured lawns and concierges.

It is estimated the fraudsters have made more than £100,000 each by sub-letting the flats over a three-year period, while costing the taxpayer a quarter of a million pounds in housing benefit. Hany Hanna, an estate agent in Marylebone, said he had been aware of the scams for 20 years, but recently they had reached ‘epidemic’ levels:
They come into my office asking which blocks are best to rent. Some of them will come to the UK with a piece of paper with instructions on how to do things. First you have to be pregnant, then go to the housing department – they give you a flat. After you get the flat, you move into another place, give the [first set of] keys to an agent, he will find you a tenant and you’ll be making double whammy – money from the Government and making money from the flat the Government gave you.
Westminster Council’s anti-fraud tsar, Councillor Lindsey Hall, said many of the families were former asylum seekers who had been granted refugee status. They receive up to £500 a week in housing benefit which they use to rent private flats in luxury blocks. They secure these tenancies through unscrupulous middlemen acting as estate agents, before moving into a cheaper flat.

They illegally sub-let the more expensive taxpayer-funded apartment to wealthy Arab families holidaying in London from Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia. The Iraqi-born claimants and the crooked agents split the profits. The frauds are committed without the knowledge of the property owners, who receive the rent they are charging without realising their home is being let for much more.

The 21 fraudulent benefits claimants Westminster recently apprehended have all had their housing benefit payments cancelled and face civil court proceedings to reclaim the money. But Ms Hall said it would be difficult to bring criminal prosecutions in most cases because of the high burden of proof councils need, which can be very costly:
We are asking for a more rigorous system where the onus isn’t always on local authorities to spend tens of thousands of pounds and conduct months of work to prove that someone is claiming benefits fraudulently. Tougher tenancy agreements would be a starting point, and a fully traceable, fully transparent money trail ahead of that agreement being put in place. We need same rigour as in the private sector.

10 May 2014

llegal immigrant claimed £26,000 in benefits after being told to leave the UK

A Kenyan fraudster living in Birmingham stole more than £26,000 in benefits – after being denied permission to stay in the UK, reports the Birmingham Mail. (h/t Dave)

Lucy Mbugua had already been ordered to leave the country when she launched the four-year scam. Then – after being charged over her crimes - she stayed in the UK.

The 40-year-old mother was convicted of three offences of dishonestly claiming taxpayers’ cash while having no right to remain in the UK.

She was found guilty in her absence and also failed to turn up to be sentenced at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court. A warrant was issued for Mbugua’s arrest – but the Mail tracked her down to her home in Westminster Road, Selly Oak, before police caught up with her. She told our reporter that she failed to attend court because of childcare issues, but would not comment further on the case.

Her convictions were welcomed by Birmingham City Council. But the Home Office refused to explain how Mbugua was allowed to remain in the UK to commit the crimes despite having exhausted all her legal appeal options.

Magistrates heard she fraudulently claimed £24,479,09 in housing benefit and £1,829.48 in council tax benefit between September 17, 2009 and August 13, 2013.

But the court was told she was not granted permission to stay in the country until last December. She secured the three-year visa on the grounds of having a right to a family life.

Joe Millington, prosecuting, said Mbugua ticked a box on a claim form to make it appear she had the right to live in the UK. The Mail understood that she lawfully entered the country on a visa but exhausted all appeals to stay in 2009, after claiming to be a victim of domestic abuse.

Her crimes were detected through the use of data matching methods, which see council fraud investigators trawl through information shared by other government departments.

Magistrates found Mbugua guilty in her absence on April 11. The court received a letter during that hearing to say she had childcare problems. The case was adjourned for sentencing but Mbugua failed to attend for the second time last Friday and the arrest warrant was issued.

The Home Office said it could not comment on individual cases. Council deputy leader Coun Ian Ward said:
Given the pressures we face as a result of central government funding cuts, it is essential we ensure every penny goes to those with a rightful claim. I hope this conviction sends out a clear message that we will pursue those who set out to defraud the system.
The message surely is that Britain's justice system is rickety.

17 Mar 2014

Ugandan benefit thief may try to claim asylum

We've met Ruth Nabuguzi before here and here. She's now been up in court again, and according to the Daily Mail she intends to claim asylum claiming she would face disgrace if she was sent home.

Ruth Nabuguzi is insisting that relatives are angry at the shame she has brought on them through her criminal activities here. She was accused of an ‘outrageous abuse of the hospitality’ shown to her by Britain when she – along with a gang of other fraudsters – was convicted of stealing more than £4.1million from taxpayers. The 20-year scam saw her gang create fake identities for up to 100 children to milk the benefits system. She has now been ordered by a judge to pay back £1.5million of the money she stole or face having her six-year jail sentence doubled.

Nabuguzi had also claimed to have HIV and Aids to receive costly drugs which she then sent back to Uganda to be sold to genuine victims at a huge profit. It was estimated that supplying the medicines to her, as well as four other made-up patients, cost the taxpayer more than £2million.

Now, in a further twist to her case, the Daily Mail has learned that Nabuguzi plans to make an asylum application in a bid to halt deportation. When she was jailed in November 2012 she was told that she would be kicked out of the country. Immigration sources have said that Nabuguzi claims her life could be ‘in danger’ if she returned to Uganda because of the ‘ill will’ felt towards her for the shame she has brought upon her family. ‘She has repeatedly said people who know her might wish to harm her when she returns to Kampala,’ said an immigration source.

When the Nabuguzi case was first heard two years ago it emerged some £154,000 went on education for members of the ‘family’. Fraud relating to accommodation costs and sub-letting of flats by Nabuguzi cost £650,000, and the family’s benefits, including child allowances, disability benefits, and council tax totalled £900,000.

She re-appeared at Croydon Crown Court in South London last month for a hearing in which the defence and prosecution submitted arguments to Judge Nicholas Ainley – who presided over the 2012 trial – on how much she should repay. At yesterday’s confiscation hearing the judge announced his decision. She appeared in court alongside Ronald Kavuma, 37, who was told to repay £157,000.

Conservative MP Julian Brazier praised the actions of the judge and said:
I welcome the fact the judge has taken such a tough line. However, I hope the tribunal that deals with this woman’s attempt to stay in this country do not allow her to do so. If they do allow her to remain the system is not fit for purpose.
The lengthy 2012 trial heard that in a campaign of deceit lasting more than two decades Nabuguzi’s ‘family business’ saw them ‘conspire together to create, use and exploit’ false identities to carry out the staggering fraud. Eight of the group were sentenced to a total of 19 years by Judge Ainley. At the time he told her:
This was a fraud on a huge scale and it is an outrageous abuse of the hospitality you were offered by this country. The identities you used and no doubt sold were then used by other people. You had no scruples in bringing children to this country and then involving them in your criminal pursuits. This was motivated entirely by greed.
During the February hearing the judge heard how she had spent much of the stolen money on a complex consisting of luxury apartments, shops, restaurants and a hotel in her home city of Kampala, the Ugandan capital. Plans for properties were found when police raided the gang’s homes across East London.

This month the same judge told an emotionless Nabuguzi she had been behind a ‘large scale thriving business over a period of many years’. The judge told her that she had also rented out at least 15 properties to illegal immigrants and added:
Her evidence was that she was helping fellow Ugandans. That is nonsense. She was running a large scale business and she was running it for her own gain. Money was sent out to Uganda and was deployed in building complexes including flats, shops and hotels. She is the beneficial owner of a number of properties in Uganda. She will now have to dispose of them to pay monies back to this country.
The judge told Nabuguzi to repay £1,512,34.43 in six months or face a further six years in prison.

It emerged during the February hearing that another member of her gang was said to have boasted in prison that police had found only ‘the tip of the iceberg’ of what was stolen by the gang.

6 Mar 2014

£23k benefits thief is an MBE and retired magistrate

A community stalwart with an MBE has been spared jail after claiming more than £23,000 of taxpayers' money by lying about his savings.

Former magistrate Rahmat Ali Raja, 75, dishonestly claimed pension credits and council tax reductions for 10 years - despite, at one point, having more than £102,000 across nine bank accounts.

But the retired charity director, who was also a local councillor in Pendle, Lancashire, was spared jail for his crimes.

Speaking after the hearing, Raja, originally from Gujarat, Pakistan, said: 'I am very sorry. I made a mistake.'

Raja, who has already paid the amounts back in full, was handed a 24-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of dishonestly failing to disclose information to make a gain for himself, and one count of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a benefit.

Preston Magistrates' Court heard that, between October 2003 and September 2013, Raja told the Department for Work and Pensions he was retired and had just £5,601 in savings.He wrongly claimed £11,379 in the process.

Raja also failed to declare his real savings to Pendle Council in November 2004, allowing him to wrongly claim £11,898 between October 2003 and March 2013.

John Abbott, prosecuting, told the court how Raja would receive the payments into his Halifax bank account via automatic credit transfer.

He said: 'Evidence has now become available that he had £83,000 on October 6, 2003 which was not disclosed at the time. Had the true facts been known, there would have been an effect on his benefits.'

In 2009, Raja claimed he only had one bank account, which he shared with his wife.

But Mr Abbott said: 'He had nine other accounts in his and his wife’s names and agrees they were there when he made the original claims for pension credit. He denied acting dishonestly and said he made a mistake.'

Too right.

John Wishart, defending, said: 'First of all, the guidelines make it clear that a large sum of money can be accumulated over a long period of time, as in this case. Of considerable mitigation is that the money was instantly repaid in full. The final payment was made in September last year.'

He added that the ‘highest recorded amount’ in Raja’s savings at any one time was ‘a little over £102,000’. He added that although these accounts were in his name, they were shared by many members of Raja’s family.

Sparing Raja jail, chairman of the bench Kathleen Strickland said his offences had been aggravated because he 'committed the fraud from the outset’.

But she said Raja’s age, early guilty plea, full repayment and ill health prevented her from handing out an immediate custodial sentence.

As well as his suspended jail sentence, which could be activated it he re-offends within 12 months, Raja must pay court costs of £85 and a £75 victim surcharge.

Mrs Strickland said: “If you break this condition it could be very serious for you.”

And give back the MBE.