A 'SERIAL fraudster' living in Kilburn who used a fake ID to get British citizenship has been jailed after claiming £400k in benefits.
37-year-old Moroccan national Mohamed Bouzalim arrived in the UK in 2001 posing as an Afghan resident named Mohamed Hussini. He claimed his father had been shot dead by the Taliban.
He later went on to live in a flat in Grangeway, Kilburn, saying that he was severely disabled and convincing authorities that he was paralysed from the neck down and virtually bedridden. He said he needed 24 hour care and a wheelchair to get around.
In late 2009 officers from the UK Border Agency’s Criminal and Financial Investigation team began an investigation into Bouzalim and his family following a tip-off.
A spokesman for the Home Office said: "Surveillance showed that he wasn’t the severely disabled person he claimed to be. Officers witnessed him walking around unaided, and in one case he was seen leaving his flat in Kilburn just minutes after a care assessment."
On June 17 last year, Bouzalim was arrested at his council flat. His mother, father, sister and two brothers were arrested on the same day.
Searches revealed further evidence of his lies, including a home video of him dancing at his wedding, a card showing he was the member of a local gym and documentation showing that he was studying for a PhD.
On Monday October 10 Bouzalim admitted a series of fraud, deception and immigration offences at Isleworth Crown Court.
His siblings also admitted a number of fraud charges in connection with the scam.
On Friday November 25 a judge at Isleworth Crown Court sentenced Bouzalim to six years and eleven months in prison.
His brothers and sister were also sentenced alongside him. Rachid Bouzalim, 35, admitted two counts of conspiracy to defraud and was given a 12 month suspended sentence with 200 hours community service, suspended for two years. Abdallah Bouzalim, 39, admitted one count of conspiracy to defraud, he was given a 12 month suspended sentence with 150 hours community service, suspended for two years. Zahra Bouzalim, 41, admitted two counts of conspiracy to defraud, one count of fraud and one count of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception, she was given a 12 month suspended sentence with 300 hours community service, suspended for two years.
In total Bouzalim is thought to have made around £400,000 from the scam, taking money in income support, disability living allowance, housing benefit, council benefit and other care allowances. Thousands of pounds had also been spent adapting his flat in Kilburn for the use of a severely disabled person.
Robert Coxhead, senior investigating officer from the UK Border Agency Criminal and Financial Investigation team, said: “Mohamed Bouzalim was a top class fraudster and con artist. His whole life was a lie.
“Over a period of years he successfully duped a number of people and organisations into believing his elaborate lies, and as a result he managed to defraud taxpayers of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Members of his family were complicit in that fraud."
Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation proceedings have now started in a bid to recover money from Bouzalim. Bank accounts in his name containing around £60,000 have already been frozen.