The ringleader of a fraud gang caught stealing more than £100,000 in benefits in Harrow has been jailed.
Sancho Jayaratnam, 58, was caught red-handed abusing his position as a benefit assessor to commit multiple acts of fraud by Harrow Council.
His scam created bogus payments from customer claims and siphoned them directly into the bank accounts of his accomplices.
One such accomplice, Gabriella Morosan, 28, admitted that she recruited an entire network of people to launder the stolen money.
Jayaratnam, of Milner Court, in Bushey, claimed he was coerced into the crimes by a gang but this was given short shrift by a judge who dismissed his story as “fantasy”.
He was jailed for three years last week.
The judge ordered he must return all of the money he stole or face further jail time.
Jayaratnam’s prosecution was brought to court following joint action by the Metropolitan Police’s dedicated fraud team, FALCON and Harrow Council’s own anti-fraud investigators.
They dedicated hundreds of hours to building a case, which showed Jayaratnam’s attempts to circumvent the authority’s anti-fraud measures.
When investigators swooped in November 2016, incriminating evidence was uncovered in his house and car, including documents belonging to benefit claimants and an ATM receipt showing a cash withdrawal made by Morosan, of Bramshaw Gardens in Watford.
Nine separate accounts were used for the fraud - in total they received 114 dodgy payments initiated by Jayaratnam between August 2015 and November 2016, totalling £113,628.
“I’m delighted with the work of our investigators. There's nowhere for fraudsters to hide in Harrow. Sancho Jayaratnam learnt that the hard way”, said Councillr Adam Swersky, Harrow Council’s Cabinet member for Finance and Resources.
“This kind of fraud is one of the lowest forms of crime – it's stealing from taxpayers and from the vulnerable at the same time. Maybe he thought it wasn’t that serious, maybe he thought he’d get away with it – he was wrong.”
Jayaratnam now faces a proceeds of crime investigation to determine a final sum for repayment.
As a minimum, he will have to find the full amount he stole, plus costs to the council of £22,000, within six months or face further jail time. He may also be forced to forfeit property.
For her part in the fraud, Morosan, who earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud, received an 18 month suspended sentence - and was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.