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Convicted of housing benefit fraud

What were the consequences?

Didn't find your answer?

Just for your interest. Nadia Saroya was convicted of housing benefit fraud. Ms Saroya claimed and was paid housing benefit of £47,640.23 from 27 December 2011 to 5 February 2017. She was not entitled to any housing benefit.

What do you think the consequences were? Was she

1. Sent to prison for 12 months?

2. Subject to a suspended prison sentence?

3. Required to pay £4,000?

4. Required to pay £40,000?

5. Required to pay £400,000?

The answers can be found HERE.

David

Replies (14)

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VAT
By Jason Croke
12th May 2022 12:23

Great article, really interesting how the legislation on confiscation orders works.

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Replying to Jason Croke:
David Winch
By David Winch
13th May 2022 07:59

Thank you Jason.

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By rmillaree
12th May 2022 12:38

I would guess deduction from future benefits of £1.00 per month , everything else fully suspended not even community service - i have not opened the box.

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By Roland195
12th May 2022 12:47

If she duly complies with the confiscation order & sells her property interests to do so, will she be entitled to Housing Benefit then?

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Replying to Roland195:
David Winch
By David Winch
13th May 2022 07:58

That's an interesting question!

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By Justin Bryant
12th May 2022 14:52

I've not looked either, but I assume the usual wrist slap of some kind.

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Replying to Justin Bryant:
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By Justin Bryant
12th May 2022 14:59

I've just looked and I'm basically right re the suspended sentence. I think you can safely assume that in most cases the crown won't get a bean re the confiscation orders, but that's possibly not true in her case.

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David Winch
By David Winch
13th May 2022 07:57

For those that have not followed the link, the 'correct' answer is 2 & 5.

David

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Replying to davidwinch:
the sea otter
By memyself-eye
13th May 2022 11:16

5: If this was in the USA she would also have been jailed for 300 years!

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Replying to davidwinch:
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By Hugo Fair
13th May 2022 13:16

As always, it would have been interesting to know the mitigating (or vice-versa) factors involved - such as:
* Did her employment with the Council facilitate the fraud? And, if so, was that due to involvement of others or to poor system design?
* Who did the Council believe to be the landlord (if in fact the claimant owned the property)? And what is meant by 'owned' (outright or via a mortgage)?
* Is it at all clear where the fraudulently monies were spent (such as paying the mortgage on main or second property, or the deposit in the latter case)?

And, pardon my naivety, but why not simply confiscate property assets sufficient to cover the fine?
Surely easier and more likely to be effective than any Order to Pay?

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Replying to Hugo Fair:
David Winch
By David Winch
15th May 2022 15:29

Sorry to get into terminology here, but there was no "fine" and "confiscation" under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 is something of a misnomer, as it does not involve any assets being confiscated.
A confiscation order (as occurred in this case) simply involves the court ordering the convicted defendant to pay a specified sum of money by a specified date. In this case Ms Saroya was ordered to pay £404,179.82 within 3 months.
If she fails to pay then there are various options open to the court to enforce payment (including requiring her to serve a period in prison and the appointment of a receiver over her assets with power to sell them).
To answer the specific questions:
1. As far as I am aware her employment with the council did not further the fraud.
2. She presented to the housing benefit department a fake tenancy agreement showing that she was paying rent to a (fake) landlord. In fact she & her husband were owner occupiers, with a mortgage.
3. There is no indication of how the fraudulently obtained monies were spent (although it might be reasonable to assume that the extra income helped her buy the second property).

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Replying to davidwinch:
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By Hugo Fair
15th May 2022 16:49

Thanks - clarification of the terminology was exactly what was needed (for me anyway). Hence my "pardon my naivety, but .." comment!

All is now clearer with your explanation that "a confiscation order" under PoCA is a misnomer - at least until such time as a receiver over her assets is potentially appointed with power to sell those assets.

In this particular case (on the limited info available to us) it would have seemed more logical & efficient to simply confiscate property assets sufficient to cover the fine ... but since when did logic or efficiency determine the course of the law.

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Stepurhan
By stepurhan
13th May 2022 08:44

I guessed 5 because I have read your articles before. This is even crazier than the situation where multiple people are all assumed to have received the whole benefit of the crime.

That said, if there is no realistic hope of the high figure being recovered,isn't it just a waste of time for everyone?

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Replying to stepurhan:
David Winch
By David Winch
15th May 2022 15:34

stepurhan wrote:

That said, if there is no realistic hope of the high figure being recovered,isn't it just a waste of time for everyone?


In this case Ms Sayora clearly has assets which could be realised and the judge was not persuaded that she would be unable to pay the whole amount.
In other cases confiscation proceedings are very often settled by 'deals' agreed in the corridor outside the courtroom on the day the matter is due to be contested. In negotiating those deals the defendant (or more accurately his / her counsel) will often put this very point to the prosecution.
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