Cheat jailed after netting �43,000

A BENEFIT cheat who scammed �43,000 but was caught when he left �10,000 in a drawer after moving home has been jailed for nine months. Blackfriars Crown Court heard Fahd El-Hajj pretended he was a penniless student while working as carpenter earning up to

A BENEFIT cheat who scammed �43,000 but was caught when he left �10,000 in a drawer after moving home has been jailed for nine months.

Blackfriars Crown Court heard Fahd El-Hajj pretended he was a penniless student while working as carpenter earning up to �75,000 to claim Housing Benefit from Camden Council.

Despite being refused asylum in February 2004, the 34-year-old Palestinian continued to claim the cash over a three-year period while living in Hillcrest court, Cricklewood.

Failed asylum seekers are not allowed to claim benefits.


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El-Hajj was snared after he forgot about his stash when he moved out of the �300,000 property and the new tenant happened to be a policeman who handed in the cash and reported him to the authorities.

An investigation was launched which discovered he was fleecing the benefits system.

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Patrick Mullens, prosecuting, said: "The Crown says the defendant was falsifying housing benefit application forms and by misdeclaring his position on postal verification forms received a total of �43,445 by way of housing benefits."

El-Hajj's bank account showed a balance of �8,773, and another account had more than �33,000 credited to it between January 2004 and April 2005, when he claimed to on an annual salary of just �5,081 for working 17 hours a week at minimum wage.

He had also lied on credit card application forms by pretending to be legally earn more than �15,000 a year, when in reality he did not.

Passing sentence, Judge Deva Pillay said: "In my judgement you full well knew that you were not entitled to benefits and further in my view you well knew your way around the benefit system."

El-Hajj, now of Nant Road, Cricklewood, admitted five counts of false accounting.

A council spokeswoman said: "Camden Council is delighted at the outcome of this case. The council takes benefit fraud very seriously, as people who fraudulently claim benefits are taking money away from the most vulnerable members of society.

"The council has a dedicated team to detect and deal with benefit fraud and is determined to take action against those who attempt to abuse the benefits system.

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