Council gets tough on benefits cheat

A woman who wrongly claimed nearly £43,000 in benefits must now pay nearly £60,000 after not returning a single penny since Watford Borough Council successfully prosecuted her last year.

Published: Tuesday, 27th September 2016

Watford residents Bushra Begum, 72, of Rose Gardens, and her daughter Tabassum, 42, of Chesham Way, had illegally claimed more than £185,000 between them. The pair had more than £260,000 hidden away in 100 different accounts, but continued claiming benefits for many years.

Bushra Begum has failed to repay her £42,666.16 share of the fraudulent claims to Watford Borough Council and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This is despite being handed an 18-month suspended sentence in April last year. However, after successful confiscation proceedings, she has been ordered to pay £59,664.73 to the two organisations by Monday next week (October 3). Otherwise, she will be sent to prison for 18 months.

Elected Mayor of Watford Dorothy Thornhill said: “This case is a good example of the lengths a few people will go to in order to try and cheat the system for their own advantage.  It also shows how Watford Borough Council will crack down on benefit fraud wherever we find it. We have a dedicated team of investigators devoted to catching and exposing benefit cheats. We will not let benefit cheats slip off our radar once caught – this is public money that is intended to support services and those in real need. Failing to pay up immediately has already cost Bushra Begum about £17,000 and I hope her punishment is a warning to anyone else who considers cheating the system.”

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