Eight members of a Sri Lankan family have been served prison terms for fraudulently claiming nearly £170,000 in housing benefits over a period of 17 years.
Their luck ran out when the local council was tipped off and began to investigate.
They used a simple method to hoodwink the council authorities where one relative would apply for a mortgage, often using false information, then rent the house to a family member. The tenant would hide the fact that they were related to their landlord and claim housing benefit, which was funnelled straight into mortgage repayments. The family even drew up bogus tenancy agreements.
The swindle began in 1993 when Premkumar Pathmanathan and his brother-in-law Sittamplan Soundrasritharan secured a deal for a house in Wembley, North London. Pathmanathan's father, Sinniah was installed as the fake tenant, and began claiming his bogus rent on benefits.
Three years later, the family got a mortgage for the house next door, in the name of Pathmanathan and his brother Sivakumar. Pathmanathan's estranged wife, Kalaivany Premkumar was installed as the pretend tenant, and she too began claiming illegal benefits which covered the mortgage.
In 2000, a house in Harrow, North London, was bought in the names of husband and wife Nalliah and Shamini Kowridas, also relatives. Premkumar Pathmanathan's name was used on the tenancy agreement and the money rolled in. Houses in this area go for £305,000.
In total, about £50,000 of public money went into the mortgage of each house. In the past few years another £11,000 was gained by the family through two other nearby houses in North London.
The Brent Council got an anonymous tip in 2006 that Kalaivany Premkumar had an unregistered partner living at her address. It took investigators over two years to unravel the fraud and the case came up for final sentencing Wednesday.
The Daily Mail quoted judge Graham Arran of the Harrow Crown Court in London telling the accused: “This was done for greed, and never for need. Every claim was dishonest from the outset, and I have no doubt the scam involved other fraudulent activity - mortgage fraud and other benefit fraud.”