Benefit fraudsters in Brent pocketed £1m last year

Marianne Jonson was jailed for benefit fraud

Marianne Jonson was jailed for benefit fraud - Credit: Archant

Benefit fraudsters in Brent claimed just under £1million in housing and council tax payments in the last year.

Dishonest residents in the borough also fraudulently pocketed around £300,000 in other benefits including job seeker’s allowance from the Department for Work and Pension.

The council’s fraud team took 22 people to court with three of the worst offenders being jailed for 13, 24, 32 months.

Another 16 were issued with administrative penalties, in which they have to pay back 30 per cent on top of the amount they wrongly claimed.

Offenders include Sakhawat Hussain, of Woodfield Avenue, Kenton, who claimed £26,048 in Housing and Council Tax benefits while failing to declare he had more than £30k in savings.

Anyone with more than £16,000 savings are not entitled to both benefits as they are means-tested.

Last June, he was given an eight-week prison sentence, suspended for two years with a six-month curfew from 10am to 4pm.

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He must pay back the total sum at a rate of £50 per month.

Greedy council tenants who were unlawfully subletting their homes were also caught in the clampdown with the town hall seizing 41 properties after investigating 204 suspected cases.

A council spokesman said: “Brent Council is committed to protecting the public purse and to uncovering and investigating benefit fraud.

“Amounts defrauded will be subject to a range of recovery actions. An overpayment will be raised in all cases and recovery made by various means.”

One of the worst cases of benefit fraud seen in Brent in recent years involved Marianne Jonson, who lived in Rawlings Crescent, Wembley.

The transsexual former lorry-driver from Hull, who ran the Roundwood Café in Willesden, was jailed for four-and-a-half years for falsely claiming £197,000 in disability benefits by pretending to be a paraplegic.

Jonson, who was born Robert Duxbury and known by ten other names including Countess Mariaska Romanov, also secured accommodation in social housing reserved for disabled people after forging medical records to back her claims.

She audaciously pretended to have an able-bodied identical twin sister when she was spotted by a social services officer walking her dog.