Trio jailed after assisting £578,000 of benefit fraud from Redbridge Council
PUBLISHED: 12:37 08 April 2016 | UPDATED: 15:32 12 April 2016
Three fraudsters who helped foreigners illegally claim more than half a million pounds in housing benefit from Redbridge Council have been jailed.
Accountant Chowdhury Muyeed, 52, of Horns Road, Newbury Park, was sentenced to five and half years imprisonment after he was convicted of conspiring to dishonestly produce documentation relating to social security.
His wife Asma Khanom, 47, also of Horns Road, was jailed for three and a half years after being found guilty of dishonestly producing documentation, but not guilty of conspiring to do so.
The third defendant Habibur Rahman, 36, of Arbury Road, Mile End, was sentenced to three years and three months imprisonment after he was acquitted of the conspiracy charge, but convicted of the same crime as Khanom.
They ran “bogus” businesses and charities, which would provide fake employment details for Italians of Bangladeshi origin to claim benefits.
The 139 claimants – 28 of which have been convicted – were given documents to prove they were working part time, so they could qualify for housing benefit.
They were able to claim £578,000 worth of housing benefit from the Redbridge Council and more than £600,000 from Tower Hamlets Council.
Muyeed and Khanom were responsible arranging £692,927 worth of benefits from both local authorities. Rahman was responsible for arranging £187,290 in benefits, also from the two councils.
Judge Nigel Peters OC added: “In total, some £1.5m worth of benefits attributable to this investigation have been obtained, so others not traceable to you have been fraudulent.”
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) was also duped out of £420,000.
Edward McKiernan mitigating for Muyeed, who was in the process of becoming a qualified accountant in the UK, said: “That profession will no longer be available to him.”
He added: “He’s lost his good character.”
Dale Beeson for mum-of-three Khanom, who graduated with a masters degree in Bangladesh, said: “There’s limited evidence to suggest Mrs Khanom was running the show. She accepts that she fulfilled certain roles.
“My submission is that it’s not of high culpability, she was performing limited functions under direction. In relation to the children in the family [please] balance the effects of losing both parents.”
Alexander Taylor-Camara for Rahman said: “It does have a traumatic affect when one is the main breadwinner in the household. They [his family] have been affected significantly.
“He’s a man of good character, who had been here for 14 years, an educated man, and really has lost that and the ability to pursue a proper career.”
In his closing statements, Mr Peters said the three had been convicted of “a most blatant assault” on the UK benefits system.
He said: “If someone makes a false benefits claim, that person who might go to prison even for a first offence creates in effect a greater burden on the system, hurts taxpayers and local authority council tax payers.
“In short, you were responsible for arranging and facilitating a large number of people who otherwise would have had no involvement in this country – or indeed fraud – by claiming false housing benefit.”
He said the fraud would have gone “unabated” if it was not for the arrests made in May, last year.
The judge commended Redbridge Council for its investigations before Khanom waved to the public gallery as she was taken away with the two men.
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