Money reclaimed from benefit cheats
Ministers have said they will use "all the powers of the law" to claw back taxpayers' money stolen by benefits cheats.
The Department for Work and Pensions has published a rogues' gallery of the worst convicted fraudsters who have been ordered to pay back hundreds of thousands of pounds.
In 2012-13, the department's specialist Financial Investigation Unit obtained 271 confiscation orders worth £8.9 million - a 50% increase by value on the previous year.
Welfare Minister Lord Freud said: "These cases should serve as a warning to the cynical minority who see benefits as a way of unfairly lining their pockets at the taxpayer's expense. You will face justice and we will use all the powers of the law to close down bank accounts, freeze assets and force the sale of properties to claw back the stolen money and any proceeds made from that stolen money. Those who refuse will face time behind bars and still have to pay up when they are out."
The ten of the highest sums of money convicted fraudsters have been ordered to pay under the Proceeds of Crime Act during 2012/13 were:
:: Sly Malik, 49, of Barking who was ordered to pay back £1,031,943 within 12 months or face five years in prison after being found guilty of 12 charges of benefit fraud in October 2012 totalling £38,997. Malik claimed jobseeker's allowance and housing benefit, despite owning nine properties, running several companies and having more than 70 bank accounts with more than £200,000: A couple from Scotland had to pay back nearly £1 million pounds after stealing £63,000. Anthony Kearney of Glasgow, was ordered to pay £930,362 and Janet Kearney £13,003. They fled to Spain after being charged with fraudulently claiming benefits and using stolen identities but were extradited back to Scotland. Anthony Kearney was sentenced to two years in prison and Janet Kearney to 250 hours of community service.
:: Gladys Popoola, 51, of London, was ordered to pay back £304,079. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison for claiming a variety of benefits totalling £207,975 while working and using fake identities. She had 19 bank accounts, including two for companies she ran, and land and property in Kenya. She was given six months to pay or face three-and-a-half years in prison: Anthony David Kiley, 51, of London, was given two years to pay £246,398 or face a two-year sentence after receiving £112,143 in benefits he was not entitled to. He pleaded guilty to working while claiming income support and failing to declare capital.
:: Emidio Dos Santos, 39, of London, was given six months to pay £178,733 or face two years in prison. He was jailed for 21 months for the laundering of stolen DWP and HM Revenue and Customs cheques. He initially evaded prison, but was apprehended by police: Inam Ul-Haq, 48, of Walsall, was ordered to pay £148,794 within six months or face 21 months in jail. He pleaded guilty to claiming £31,116 in income support while failing to declare capital.
:: Catherine Williams, 51, of London, was ordered to pay £137,723. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine months for claiming income support as a lone parent, despite living with her partner and working full time for Brent Council and having property in Nigeria: Alison Jacques, 55, of Leeds, was ordered to pay £116,954, after being sentenced to 10 months in prison having pleaded guilty to claiming income support, incapacity benefit and council tax benefit while working full time in a call centre for British Gas.
:: Moin Ahmed, 79, of London, was ordered to pay £100,000. Moin was sentenced to two years for fraudulent claims to income support, housing benefit and council tax credits using two identities, while also subletting the council properties: Bertie Mooney, 66, of Manchester, was ordered to pay £100,000 within six months or face two years in jail. He pleaded guilty to using false identities to fraudulently claim various DWP benefits.