A BENEFITS cheat who swindled £260,000 by claiming she was ‘too ill to work’ was caught after she was filmed dancing at a wedding.
Nasreen Akhtar, 50, fraudulently claimed benefits between 2002 and 2013 based on being a single parent with poor mobility, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
Footage released by the CPS shows the mum dancing with family members at a wedding.
Akhtar, from Oldham, is seen spinning around and jumping up and down as she waves her arms in a synchronised motion.
Another clip also shows Akhtar out and about walking around shops.
The Department of Work and Pensions investigators began covert surveillance of the mum in 2012 after receiving a tip-off.
The CPS said during a police raid on her home in 2013, they found the partner Akhtar claimed to not have in her bed.
They added that even though she said she was “too ill to work” and had “poor mobility” and “significant care needs”, she was seen dancing at the wedding and out and about with family.
Akhtar admitted to seven counts of fraud against the local authority and the DWP, and was jailed for two years on Friday at Manchester Crown Court.
Simon Tunnicliffe, of Mersey Cheshire CPS’s fraud unit, said it took three years for the CPS and the DWP to bring Akhtar to justice.
‘HOODWINK THE COURT’
He added: “This was an extremely complex benefits fraud case that went way beyond the average case.
“It has taken the CPS and the DWP three years to bring this woman to justice as, shortly after the start of her trial in 2017, she attempted, at further cost to the taxpayer, to have herself found unfit to stand trial.
“Earlier this year we brought even more compelling evidence that Ms Akhtar was trying to hoodwink the court and the judge decided that she was fit and well enough to stand trial.
“On October 7 2019 at the pre-trial preparation hearing, in the face of a well-constructed case and overwhelming evidence, Ms Akhtar pleaded guilty to a total of seven counts of fraud against her local authority and the DWP.
“She has now been sentenced to two years in prison and Proceeds of Crime proceedings will begin to recover taxpayers’ money which is badly needed elsewhere.”
Akhtar claimed housing benefit and council tax relief as a single parent for a house she rented when she actually owned it jointly with her partner, the CPS said.
It added she also claimed income support as a single parent reliant on benefit cash, when she owned other properties and had a significant amount of savings.
Prosecutors said Akhtar claimed disability living allowance as a someone with “extremely poor mobility and significant care needs” and employment and support allowance as a single parent who was “too ill to work”.
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A DWP spokesman added: “Benefit fraud is a crime that diverts money from those who really need it.
“In addition to any sentence imposed by the court, people must pay back all the money they falsely obtained.
“We have zero tolerance of anyone fraudulently claiming benefits and will take swift action to investigate, supporting our partners and prosecutors to bring them to justice.”
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