A benefits cheat who lied his way to almost £35,000 of taxpayers’ cash – and was sending tens of thousands of pounds to Pakistan – has been locked up for 15 months.
Father-of-four Iftikhar Ahmad (63) kept quiet about his savings to get handouts and, at one stage, he and his wife had £75,000 in various bank accounts and premium bonds, Burnley Crown Court was told.
The more money that is wasted on liars like you, the less there is to spend on people who need and deserve the moneyJudge Graham Knowles
Ahmad carried out the scam for six years, between 2006 and 2012, getting income support and council tax benefits. Although he did not declare his savings to the authorities, he did tell them about the difficulties experienced by his children, hoping he would get even more money from the public purse.
The hearing was told one of his youngsters, who are all at primary school, is currently in remission from leukaemia.
Ahmad is today starting a jail term, after a judge said it was clearly a bad case of benefit fraud, public money had been wasted and it was an aggravating feature that some of the money was going abroad. The defendant, of Colne Road, Burnley, admitted three benefits fraud-related allegations. He will face a proceeds of crime hearing at a later date.
Jonathan Rogers, prosecuting for the Department for Work and Pensions, told the hearing the defendant was paid almost £35,000 he was not entitled to and the claim was fraudulent from the outset.
In May 2006, Ahmad submitted a claim for income support, it was signed by him and he declared he was unable to work due to illness. He further stated he and his wife had no income or savings and declared they had about £260. Mr Rogers said: “That was untrue. At the time of completing that form, they had savings of over £10,000.”
The prosecutor said five or six months later, the defendant had capital of more than £16,000 and, on April 4th, 2007, he and his wife had savings in excess of £30,000.
Mr Rogers said: “In addition, he began to claim and receive council tax benefit from Burnley Council and it was a condition of entitlement to both income support and council tax benefits that he notify the Department for Work and Pensions and the council of any change in his circumstances. Throughout that period, he failed to declare he had the savings.” He continued: “At one point, during 2009, he and his wife held about £75,000 in various bank accounts and premium bonds.”
Mr Rogers said: “It’s an aggravating feature that during the indictment period, not only did he fail to declare his savings, but he did declare the difficulties experienced by his children, anticipating this would result in an increase to his entitlement to state benefits.”
The prosecutor said, in 2011, the defendant signed a review form. He said: “At the time of signing that form, he had savings in excess of £43,000. That was a reduction from the £75,000 in 2009. It appears significant sums were sent by the defendant abroad during the period of the indictment. There are large payments to Aftab currency exchange.”
Mr Rogers said, as a result of his dishonesty, Ahmad got £34,918.44, to which he was not entitled, between October 2006 and November 2012.
The defendant was questioned twice. In the first interview, he did not give very clear answers in relation to accounts or money sent abroad and in the second, he made no comment. He had no previous convictions.
James Heyworth (defending) said: “There were opportunities during that period to rectify the situation.”
Ahmad was a diabetic, injected insulin five times a day and took other medication as well to manage his illness.
The barrister continued: “He has benefitted for being able to make significant headway in paying off his mortgage.” The defendant was currently in receipt of benefits and had managed to pay back about £1,000.
Mr Heyworth continued: “There is hope in future that British taxpayer will have returned to them these monies which he was not entitled to receive.”
The barrister added: “Although his wife helps care for the children as well, he is a key part of his family and helps look after the children.”
Passing sentence, Judge Graham Knowles, QC, said there were two broad groups of people who lost out when people like the defendant committed benefit fraud – those who paid tax and genuine benefits claimants. He added: “The more money that is wasted on liars like you, the less there is to spend on people who need and deserve the money.”