Members of Britain’s Biggest Benefit Fraud Gang Jailed for Over 25 Years

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Home Breaking Members of Britain’s Biggest Benefit Fraud Gang Jailed for Over 25 Years

Members of Britain’s Biggest Benefit Fraud Gang Jailed for Over 25 Years

Five members of an organised criminal gang, involved in falsely claiming more than £53 million in Universal Credit, have been sentenced to a combined total of more than 25 years in jail. The sentencing marks the conclusion of the largest benefit fraud case in England and Wales.

Members Of Britain’s Biggest Benefit Fraud Gang Jailed For Over 25 Years

Bulgarian nationals Galina Nikolova, 39, Stoyan Stoyanov, 28, Tsvetka Todorova, 53, Gyunesh Ali, 34, and Patritsia Paneva, 27, were all sentenced today (30 May 2024) at Wood Green Crown Court after pleading guilty to fraud and money laundering charges related to their involvement in a multi-million-pound scam targeting the benefits system. They received sentences ranging from three years to eight years.

Members Of Britain’s Biggest Benefit Fraud Gang Jailed For Over 25 Years

Ben Reid, Specialist Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), described the case as “the largest benefit fraud prosecution ever brought to the courts in England and Wales.” He highlighted the extensive efforts by the defendants to defraud the Universal Credit system, costing taxpayers more than £53 million.

Members Of Britain’s Biggest Benefit Fraud Gang Jailed For Over 25 Years

Over a period of four-and-a-half years, from October 2016 to May 2021, the organised crime group made thousands of false claims for Universal Credit, using both real and false identities. These claims were supported by forged documents, including counterfeit payslips, fictitious tenancy agreements, and forged letters from various institutions. The group operated from three ‘benefit factories’ in London, where they facilitated the fraudulent claims.

Members Of Britain’s Biggest Benefit Fraud Gang Jailed For Over 25 Years

The investigation revealed that many claimants travelled to the UK solely to make fraudulent benefit claims through these sources. After making their claims, they returned to their home countries, leaving their claims in the hands of the criminal group. The money obtained from these fraudulent claims was laundered through multiple accounts and cash withdrawals.

Members Of Britain’s Biggest Benefit Fraud Gang Jailed For Over 25 Years

Arrests were made on 5 May 2021, and during searches of properties associated with the defendants, incriminating evidence, including forged documents and large sums of cash, was seized. Ali, one of the defendants, fled the country after released under investigation but was later extradited back to the UK from Bulgaria in February 2023.

Members Of Britain’s Biggest Benefit Fraud Gang Jailed For Over 25 Years

The successful prosecution of the case was attributed to the collaborative efforts of the CPS, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), and international partners in Bulgaria and through Eurojust. Confiscation proceedings will now be pursued to recover any criminal proceeds from the defendants.

Members Of Britain’s Biggest Benefit Fraud Gang Jailed For Over 25 Years

The CPS remains committed to working closely with law enforcement agencies and international partners to bring organised criminals engaged in fraud and money laundering to justice.

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