A 46 year old Brixton man has been successfully prosecuted by Lambeth Council for benefit fraud after he was stopped at Heathrow Airport carrying thousands of dollars.
Esayas Temesgen, of Vining Street, had left the UK in March 2013 but was stopped at the airport on his return in August that year with 8,000 US dollars. The cash was seized along with his bank statement showing a significant amount of money going in and out of the account. Lambeth Council’s Fraud team were contacted by the police when they realised that Temesgen was in receipt of benefits.
Interviewed under caution by Lambeth investigation officers, Temesgen confirmed he had not advised Lambeth Council Benefits Service of the period out of the country but claimed the money in the account didn’t belong to him and that he had gone to Sudan for medical treatment. However, he was unable to provide evidence that any treatment had taken place in Sudan. Furthermore, on examination the entry stamps on his passport it became apparent that he had entered Sudan on business. He had also visited Kenya and Eritrea during the period he was away from the UK.
His benefits were cancelled from March 2013 resulting in an overpayment of benefits in excess of £4,300.
Temesgen pleaded guilty at Clerkenwell Magistrates Court on 19 August and was ordered to pay a Fine of £160, £20 Victim Surcharge and costs of £2500.
Cllr Paul McGlone, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Finance said: “This is another example of the great work of our fraud team, who work closely with the police and other agencies to bring cheats and fraudsters to justice. Lambeth council will not tolerate fraud – it’s crime that steals from the community.”
The council’s annual review of fraud showed that £4.65m worth of fraud had been prevented included nearly a million pounds in Right to Buy discounts.