Saturday, June 4, 2011

Lid Blown Off £80,000 Muslim Benefit Fraud – Literally

A gas explosion which blew the roof off a house inadvertently exposed a scam by a Nigerian couple who fraudulently claimed £80,000 in benefits and funnelled the money back home to set up a string of businesses.

Cab driver Nura Kamara, 34, and care worker Hadiza Mohammed, 31, had their cover quite literally blown when they applied for temporary accommodation following the blast in September last year.

The explosion, started by another tenant who lived in the converted three-storey Victorian property in South Norwood, London, left five families homeless after the flats were declared unsafe.

Kamara and Mohammed approached Croydon Council’s homeless unit to arrange temporary accommodation but were caught out when checks showed that housing and council tax benefit was being paid to a couple at their address but with different names.

Home Office records showed Kamara had married a Frenchwoman in 2003. Pictures of their wedding were found on a roll of film – which also contained pictures of him and Mohammed enjoying a day out at Chessington World Of Adventures.

It is thought likely that Kamara married the Frenchwoman – who made a fleeting visit to the UK for the wedding – because he wrongly believed that marriage to an EU national entitled him to remain in the UK.

Kamara was jailed for three years and Mohammed was sentenced to 18 months at Croydon Crown Court after both pleaded guilty to a number of offences on the day of the trial, including seeking leave to remain in the UK by deceptive means, and obtaining property by deception. They both face deportation.

Councillor Dudley Mead, Croydon Council’s cabinet member for finance and resources, said: ‘This was a complex and difficult case that demonstrates the great pressures councils are under to stop people stealing money that is meant to pay for people who really need the help that state benefits can give.

‘But it also shows that where necessary Croydon Council will always take the strongest possible action against benefit cheats.’

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