Real Life Benefits "Scrounger" In Southfields

Businessman ‘lied through teeth’ to fiddle benefits

The following could easily be seen on Dominic Littlewood's series "Saints & Scroungers" which looks at the work of fraud investigators searching out benefit thieves and meets the people they are stealing from - the genuine claimants.

A company director from Southfields who cheated taxpayers by making a bogus housing benefit claim has been jailed for 15 months following an investigation by town hall fraud investigators.

Faheem Umar was sentenced at Kingston Crown Court after being found guilty of five counts of deception that netted him more than £45,000 in fraudulent claims between September 2005 and May 2009.

After his release from custody Mr Umar will be required to pay back his ill-gotten gains at the rate of £300 a month or face further legal action.

The judge in the case told Mr Umar that what he had done was "disgusting" and “thoroughly dishonest,” and that from start to finish he had "lied through his teeth".

The fraud began when the 35-year-old submitted a claim for housing benefit to pay the rent on a house in Morris Gardens, Southfields.

But his application form failed to mention that he was a director of three different companies, including a minicab firm and an events management company, and claimed he was virtually penniless.

He also didn’t mention that his brother Naveed, who owned the house, was also living at the property. Instead he claimed that his brother lived at an address in Hounslow. If he had told the truth he would not have been entitled to housing benefit

Fraud investigators began probing the claim following an anonymous tip off and established that Mr Umar’s brother did reside in Morris Gardens by cross-checking various parking permit applications, loan agreements, bank account details and records held at Companies House.

A neighbouring authority also had a housing benefit application form naming Naveed Umar as a landlord and which showed he lived at the Southfields address.

Housing spokesman Cllr Guy Senior said:
“Mr Umar has learned a very tough lesson and got what his dishonesty deserved I’m afraid. The lesson here for others is that no matter how hard you try to conceal bank accounts, family ties, or employment details there is a good chance you will be found out - and once that happens you face prosecution in the courts, a criminal record and the possibility of being sent to prison. And at the end of all that you will be required to pay the money back too.

“Our investigators receive a steady stream of tip-offs from friends, neighbours, colleagues and sometimes even relatives who are disgusted at those who cheat the system and rip-off taxpayers.

“Our fraud team is able to cross-check a wealth of information with a huge range of other public bodies and government agencies and so if there is something a claimant is trying to hide, chances are it will be discovered.

“These detailed investigations come on top of the thousands of routine checks that are done each year into all claims, including those that may stretch back many years, to make sure that claimants are still entitled to help and support from public funds.”

Anyone with information about benefit cheats can call the investigation team in confidence for free on the council's fraud hotline on 0800 328 6340. Alternatively you can call the council's benefit investigation service directly on (020) 8871 7067.

January 26, 2011