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Jun 14 2012

Harrow Council brings case against Benefit Cheat

A benefit cheat swindled taxpayers out of over £20,000 over a three year period a court has heard.

The abuse was discovered after Harrow Council brought a case against Nadeem Shabbir Qureshi, 31, formally of the Greenway, Wealdstone, currently living at Chasewood Park, Sudbury Hill.

Mr Shabbir was sentenced on 1st June 2012 at Harrow Crown Court to a 12 month Community Order and 160 hours unpaid work. Confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 are also underway to recover the money overpaid through identified assets.

He had previously pleaded guilty at Brent Magistrates Court on 27th March 2012 to five charges of benefit fraud in which he was overpaid housing and council tax benefit of £20,250.72.

The father of three had claimed housing and council tax benefit from Harrow Council in 2005 on the basis that he was earning the minimum wage and held two bank accounts. However, in February 2008 he purchased a property in Harrow on the Hill for £290,000 and failed to inform Harrow Council of the purchase. This property was subsequently let for £1,200 a month.

People who are making fraudulent claims are depriving families in need

Portfolio holder for Performance, Customer Services and Corporate Services, Cllr Graham Henson said: “At a time of severe financial pressure for our residents cases like this one are all the more important for Harrow Council to pursue. We are working hard to ensure that residents who genuinely need our support get it and to protect our frontline services, the money lost through fraud puts added pressure on all council budgets. People who are making fraudulent claims are depriving families in need and we will continue to take action to put a stop to this.”

Harrow Council began the investigation in January 2009 after information was received into Qureshi’s claim for benefit. The investigation uncovered bank accounts that Qureshi had failed to declare on his claims for benefits. The bank was contacted and bank statements for this undeclared account were obtained. The statements showed income well in excess of what Qureshi had declared and as a result of this and the property purchase the council calculated Qureshi had been overpaid by £20,250.72.

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