Mother of eight avoids jail after scrounging nearly £100k in illegal benefit claims

A mother of eight who scrounged almost £100,000 in illegal benefits for relatives that lived in Pakistan has been spared jail. 

Saaba Mahmood, accepted benefits on behalf of her aunt and uncle over a five year period – despite them living in Pakistan.

Mahmood, from 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”.

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.

But she was spared jail as she offered to enrol on a taxpayer funded programme to help her realise her crimes were not ”victimless”.

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.

The total overpayment was £94,858.44.”

Prosecutor Julian Goode said: I accept you are genuinely remorseful and social workers say your family are disciplined and well-mannered and it seems to me there is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation in your case. I have somewhat reluctantly concluded that I can suspend your sentence.’

Mahmood will face a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing in November. 

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