£100,000 benefit thief is spared jail

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Benefit thief, Saaba Mahmood has been spared jail despite fraudulently claiming £100,000 in benefits for her relatives who live in Pakistan.

The mother of eight who scrounged just shy of £100,000 in benefits was told she did not have to go to jail after she offered to enrol on a taxpayer funded programme to help her realise her crimes were not 'victimless.'

Saaba Mahmood, 36, claimed state benefit handouts on behalf of her aunt and uncle over a five year period - even though she knew they were living in 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.

In her 'defence' she even 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.'

Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester handed Mahmood a measly 16 months jail sentence which is suspended for 18 months after she admitted four charges of failing to disclose information to make a gain and one offence of fraud.

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 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.

'She said she had reported that her uncle was in Pakistan in September 2017. She said she completed forms between June 2013 and November 2016 in which she failed to mention he was in Pakistan. A breach of trust was involved..'

At the hearing, Mahmood's defence lawyer Isobel Thomas said her client should be spared jail as: 'Immediate custody will have a significant harmful impact on others. She has eight children aged between one and 13 who have to go into foster care as her husband has schizophrenia and is unable to care for them.

'Her husband gets very distressed when she isn't there and may have to go to hospital if she were sent to prison. She is a carer for her aunt who has dementia, hepatitis C and kidney failure.'

Mahmood was also ordered to complete 15 rehabilitation requirement days and 150 hours of unpaid work.

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