A FRAUDSTER who earned nearly £25,000 a year running his own IT business has been forced to pay back more than £11,500 in benefits he claimed illegally.
Kashif Ali, who as a support technician worked for the NHS among other companies, told Harrow Council officers that he earned just £87 a week – enabling him to claim housing and council tax benefits.
In reality the 41-year-old from The Heights, South Harrow, was earning around £500 a week.
On Thursday last week he was hauled before Harrow Magistrates' Court where he was handed 180 hours of community service and ordered to pay back the money he had illegally claimed and an additional £1,500 in costs.
Delivering the sentence magistrate Adam Rubens said: "There can never be any real mitigation for this type of offence.
"Benefit fraud costs the UK billions of pounds and until courts impose suitable sentences it will continue"
Councillor Paul Osborn (Con), responsible for communication at Harrow Council, added: "Mr Ali should have used his IT skills to realise this would be a case where the 'computer says no'; unfortunately for him we excel at detecting fraud. "If we had taken him at his word, he would have been the poorest IT consultant in the country.
"As is stands, he was earning more than most and exploiting a system set up to help those who really need financial assistance.
"Harrow Council strives to support vulnerable people, and people like Mr Ali are doing nothing to help our cause."
Anyone suspecting benefit fraud in Harrow should contact the Fraud Hotline confidentially on: 020 8424 1834. Alternatively, email email@example.com