A mother and daughter have pleaded guilty to multiple fraud offences after an investigation led by Watford Borough Council discovered they had more than £200,000 while claiming benefits.
Tabassum Begum, aged 41, had 79 different accounts in a variety of names and had amassed £156,112.15 by 30 May 2011.
She was overpaid £34,537.74 in Housing Benefit and £10,875.91 in Council Tax Benefit by Watford Borough Council. Meanwhile, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) overpaid her £80,395.61 in Income Support. She claimed these three benefits – gaining a total of £125,809.26 – between July 2003 and July 2012, despite having too much money to be entitled to them. Begum moved from Whippendell Road to Chesham Way, where she currently lives, during that period.
Tabassum’s mother Bushra Begum, aged 70, of Rose Gardens, Watford, had £62,416.43 in 21 different accounts by 4 February 2013.
Bushra was overpaid £6,602.10 in Pension Credit from the DWP from 1 January 2007 to 24 February 2013. She was overpaid £27,568 in Housing Benefit from 8 January 2007 to 25 March 2013 and £8,496.06 in Council Tax Benefit from 8 January 2007 to 4 April 2013. In total she claimed £42,666.16 in benefits that she was not entitled to, due to her concealing her true circumstances.
Tabassum pleaded guilty to three counts of Theft and one count of Fraud at St Albans Crown Court on Monday 13 April 2015. Bushra pleaded guilty to four charges of Dishonest Representation for obtaining benefit at St Albans Crown Court on Monday 27 April 2015. The pair will be sentenced at St Albans Crown Court on Friday 26 June.
Garry Turner, Fraud Manager at Watford Borough Council, said: “They had opened more bank accounts than any fraud case we have ever dealt with before. In terms of the financial investigation, it was a lot more time-consuming than most fraud cases we deal with. We had lots of witnesses at the court, coming from all over the country, from all the different banks and organisations where they'd opened accounts. Then they both changed their plea to guilty on the day their trials were due to begin.
"These prosecutions show the lengths to which we will go to crack down on people who abuse the system. Benefits are there to help the poorest in our society. People who commit benefit fraud are stealing from the taxpayer and we will not tolerate it. To confidentially report someone who is committing benefit fraud in Watford, phone 0800 458 920 or email firstname.lastname@example.org