Benefit fraudster given suspended prison sentence
Archived press release
Date Published: 03/02/12
An Aylesbury woman has been given a 20 week suspended prison sentence for fraudulently claiming almost £10,000 in benefits.
Sabra Illahi of Havelock Street, Aylesbury, failed to declare that she had capital well in excess of the £16,000 limit whilst claiming job seeker’s allowance and council tax benefit.
Aylesbury Vale District Council launched a joint investigation with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) after information was received that she had not declared savings in a building society account.
Mrs Illahi was interviewed under caution by officers at AVDC and the DWP and was later charged to appear at Aylesbury Magistrates’ Court.
She pleaded guilty to one offence of failing to declare savings to obtain job seeker’s allowance and four of failing to declare savings to obtain council tax benefit. Mrs Illahi had claimed £3,848.96 job seeker’s allowance and £5,243.06 council tax benefit, making the total overpaid £9,092.02.
On 30 January, she was sentenced to 20 weeks imprisonment for each offence to run concurrently, suspended for 12 months. Mrs Illahi was also given a 12 months supervision order, ordered to undertake two courses and pay £800 in costs.
The magistrates had been advised that all overpayments had already been recovered by AVDC and the DWP.
Councillor Neil Blake, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “We take benefit fraud extremely seriously. In this case Mrs Illahi has now repaid the money, which is reflected in her sentence, but benefit fraud is a very serious offence and puts an unnecessary burden on the taxpayer. We won’t tolerate it. We have an excellent track record in uncovering fraud and this prosecution should serve as a warning to others who think they can get away with cheating the system.”
The council is very keen to stamp out benefit fraud and will take action against those found to be committing offences. Anyone with information that can help catch a benefit cheat, should call AVDC’s confidential hotline on 01296 585570.
Benefit fraud can also be reported on the council’s website (www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk). People do not have to give their name and they can be assured of complete confidentiality at all times.