Mother-of-eight avoids jail after scrounging nearly £100,000 in illegal benefit claims on behalf of relatives living in Pakistan
A mother of eight who scrounged almost £100,000 in benefits she claimed for relatives living in Pakistan has been spared jail after she offered to enrol on a taxpayer funded programme to help her realise her crimes were not 'victimless.'
Saaba Mahmood, 36, pocketed state benefit handouts on behalf of her aunt and uncle over a five year period - even though she knew they were living in their native Pakistan.
But when she was caught, shameless Mahmood, of Heald Green near Stockport, Greater Manchester said she did not realise she was unable to claim on behalf of relatives who lived abroad.
She also claimed she 'lacked skills in understanding how to live in society as a responsible adult' and added that she did not realise her offences were not 'victimless crimes.'
At Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester, Mahmood admitted four charges of failing to disclose information to make a gain and one offence of fraud but was given 16 months jail suspended for 18 months.
She will also now take part in a 15-day offenders programme estimated to cost £1,500.
Prosecutor Julian Goode said: 'These are cases relating to benefit claims on behalf of her aunt, uncle, and mother. She acted as an appointee for them and in that capacity and she had a duty to disclose changes in circumstances that would impact the claim.
'She claimed Disability Living Allowance on behalf of her aunt between January 2013 and September 2018, and Employment Support Allowance between February 2013 and October 2018.
'She was acting as her aunt's appointee and as a result both benefits were paid directly into her bank account. There is evidence to show her aunt left the UK in January 2014 to go to her daughter's wedding in Pakistan but fell ill there and did not return to the UK until 28 October 2018.
'The defendant did not disclose this and continued to receive those payments in her behalf between February 2014 and October 2018. These payments totalled £62,406.52.
'Her uncle claimed Disability Living Allowance between November 2018 and October 2018 and Employment Support Allowance between October 2010 and October 2018. The defendant became his appointee in July 2012.
'She got the credit into her bank account, but he was out of the country between November 2012 and October 2013 and again between October 2015 and June 2016 and June 2016 and December 2017. The defendant failed to report the change and the overpayment was £32,074.52.
'The defendant became an appointee for her mother in July 2015 and on 31 August 2018 she said her mother was able to care for her uncle and received Employment Support Allowance. On 9 October 2018 she reported the change that her mother had stopped caring for her uncle. The overpayment in this case was £325.
'The total overpayment was £94,858.44. The defendant was interviewed on 7 February last year and confirmed her aunt had been living in Pakistan between 2014 and 2018. She said she did not know she needed to report if someone was abroad.
At an earlier hearing a lawyers for Mahmood she said she would 'benefit from programmes to help her understand these are not victimless offences' and added: 'She lacks skills in understanding how to live in society as a responsible adult.'
Mahmood was also ordered to complete 15 rehabilitation requirement days and 150 hours of unpaid work.