May 21 2013 Latest news:
Monday, April 23, 2012
Trio to pay back gains made in £507,000 scam
Three members of a £500,000 benefit fraud gang which included a former council investigator have been stripped of their assets.
Newham Council employee Bodrul Islam, 48, ripped off taxpayers in a two-year plot to build a property empire.
Islam diverted £200,000 in “ghost” housing benefit payments to crooked estate agents Moin Ahmed, 57, and 42-year-old Dulal Haque.
The three, thought to be from Bangladesh originally, were jailed for between 12 and 28 months in August 2010.
They have now been forced to pay back much of their ill-gotten gains, totalling £507,091.45, by selling some of their property.
Ahmed, who made more than £301,934.87 after investing his £71,934.87 profits, was ordered to pay back £230,000 of “realisable assets” after reaching agreement with prosecutors.
The married father had handed over £230,000 cash to buy a house in High Street North, East Ham. He used a nearby house he owned in Browning Road as security to accumulate profits on other properties.
Islam, who made £125,944.18 from the scam, was last July stripped of £46,749.08. He claimed to have spent the money on fruit machines after developing the habit during marital struggles.
But at his £250,000 three bedroom terraced house in Stratford investigators found a recently installed kitchen, new parquet flooring and plans for an extension. The cheat also used cash to fund a family wedding and a trip to Canada.
Islam joined the council in 1994. A trusted employee, he was made a senior benefits officer and was later in charge of overseeing payments in the benefits office.
But in 2007 an internal audit uncovered back-dated claims to the property agents.
Investigators discovered Islam created claims in names of people who had been on benefits but were no longer receiving money. He also reactivated dormant claims but instead of sending the money to individual landlords, he diverted large amounts to the offices of Haque and to his friend Ahmed.
In almost two years Islam diverted £125,000 to Haque, who ran property agency Elite in Forest Gate and more than £70,000 to Ahmed who ran Eurobangla in East Ham.
Alex Goudie, prosecuting, said Islam hacked into genuine claimants’ accounts and changed the status of their children, upped the amount of rent payable and changed the landlord details so handouts went to Eurobangla or Elite.
Jailing Islam for two years and four months, Haque for 12 months and Ahmed for 14 months in 2010, Judge Caroline Wright told Islam: “You exploited the system, you were in a position of trust and you exploited others too.”
Islam, of Henniker Road, Stratford, admitted two conspiracies to defraud between May 15 2005 and February 6 2007. Ahmed, of Berkeley Road, Manor Park, and Haque, of Windsor Road, Forest Gate, each admitted one like charge.
Judge Peter Herbert, ordered Ahmed to pay back £158,065.13 within 12 months or face two years’ jail and to pay £71,934.87 compensation to Newham Council. He had previously ordered Islam to pay back £46,749.08 of the £125,944.18 he benefited by, and Haque to return the £79,212.40 he made.