Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fraud Lives in $2 Million Mansion at UK Taxpayer Expense...

former asylum seeker living in a £1.2million house paid for by the ­taxpayer has been charged with ­benefit fraud.

Toorpakai Saiedi, 37, a mother of seven originally from Afghanistan, is accused of obtaining ­thousands of pounds to which she was not entitled.

Mrs Saiedi attracted headlines just over two years ago when it was revealed she was living in luxury in an imposing seven-bedroom house in West London.

At the time she was receiving £170,000 a year in benefits, including an astonishing £150,000 paid to a private landlord for the rent of the property -- equivalent to £12,500 a month.

Now Mrs Saiedi has been summonsed to appear before magistrates charged with housing benefit and council tax fraud.

It is alleged she had an undeclared bank account into which she received a secret income of around £16,000 a year.

This would have reduced the amount of ­housing benefit she was able to claim.

In all, she is alleged to have received around £30,000 in benefits to which she was not entitled, between 2007 and last year.

Mrs Saiedi claimed asylum after coming to Britain in 2001 with her children, a year after her husband Haji Rahmat Shah Saiedi, 47, had arrived in London.

The family, who were granted leave to remain, say they were wealthy farmers near Bagram airbase, 20 miles from the Afghan capital Kabul, but were forced to flee because of Taliban threats.

Their home has two large reception rooms, one featuring an enormous plasma TV, two kitchens, a dining room, a breakfast room, three shower rooms and a 100ft garden.

When the huge scale of her benefits was first revealed in 2008, the family allowed a newspaper to look around the property.

The visit revealed evidence of ­expensive games consoles, including a £160 Nintendo Wii and £250 Play­station 3, top-of-the-range mobile phones and two laptop computers, worth around £350 each.

At the time, Mrs Saiedi's son Jawad, a student who admitted he spent most of his time driving around in cars and playing snooker, said: 'When the ­council chose to put us here we did not say no. If someone gave you a lottery jackpot, would you leave it? When I heard how much the council was paying, I thought they were mad.'

Since arriving in Britain, the family have lived in several properties, all paid for by local authorities -- first in a three-bedroom terrace house in Enfield, North London, and then in a five-­bedroom semi in Ealing.

Their current seven-bedroom property, in Acton, West London, is owned by Ajit Panesar, who bought it in March 2008 for £1.2m.

He said of the rent he receives: 'I have done nothing wrong. I can't help it if the law says I should get paid the amount of money.'

The Coalition has said it will overhaul the scheme -- the Local Housing ­Allowance -- that has allowed Mrs Saiedi to live in luxury.

From April, a limit will be introduced so the maximum rent that can be claimed by someone on housing ­benefit and paid to a private landlord will be £400 a week.

A spokesman for Ealing Council said Mrs Saiedi has been charged with three counts of making false representations to the local authority with a view to obtaining housing and council tax benefit.

She also faces one count of making false representations to the Department for Work and Pensions with a view to obtaining income support.

The 10 families who are costing us an astonishing £1m a year between them just in housing benefits
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