A Bedford man been jailed for 16 months for stealing almost £140,000 in benefits over 14 years.
Alas Miah, of Brereton Road and formerly of The Avenue, Bedford, was sentenced at Luton Crown Court after admitting seven offences relating to benefit fraud spanning 14 years from 1998 to 2012. In total, he had claimed £137,572 in housing benefit, council tax benefit and Jobseeker’s Allowance that he was not entitled to.
The court heard on Thursday, July 31 that when Miah first made a claim for housing and council tax benefit from Bedford Borough Council in 1998 he declared that he had no savings or investments.
However, following a tip-off from a member of the public, investigators from Bedford Borough Council and the Department for Work and Pensions discovered that at the time he made the claim he owned a commercial property at 33 Brook Street in Raunds, and also held a valuable insurance policy.
Miah gave the property to his son in February 2000 but this did not prevent the value of the property from being taken into account for the purpose of his benefit claim. A further hearing in October this year will consider whether the property should be confiscated as a proceed of crime.
In his defence, his barrister argued that Miah was a man of otherwise good character who had not enjoyed a lavish lifestyle as a result of his crime. He was also of good standing in the community and was chairman of the funeral committee at the local mosque.
In sentencing him to prison, the Judge made it clear that “the amount of money and time make this so serious that only immediate imprisonment is needed”.
Miah must serve at least half the sentence in prison and the rest on licence in the community. If he reoffends he will serve the full sentence. He will also have to repay all the money he stole from taxpayers.
Councillor Shan Hunt, executive member for revenue and benefits, said: “This was a deliberate fraud committed over a long period of time which cost taxpayers a huge sum. Mr Miah was respected in his local community but through his own greed must now serve time in prison as a criminal and may well find his assets confiscated by the court.
“Once again, a vigilant member of the public has helped our investigators to stop a serious fraud and this case shows that no matter how long it takes, eventually the fraudsters will be caught and can expect to find themselves in prison.”