Page last updated at 16:37 GMT, Thursday, 29 October 2009

Cheating benefit advisor jailed

Laqad Yacoob
Laqad Yacoob admitted falsely obtaining benefits at an earlier hearing

A benefits officer who admitted falsely claiming over £75,000 has been jailed for 14 months at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court.

Laqad Yacoob, 40, of Stretford, who worked for Manchester City Council, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of falsely obtaining benefits over five years.

Judge Hamilton said Yacoob had "cynically and dishonestly plundered the state benefits system".

The court heard colleagues saw him as an expert on welfare rules.

He was seen to pore over complex entitlement regulations and welfare rule-books while at his job but was also secretly claiming a host of payments for himself, his wife and children.

You lived to a standard which appeared, on the face of it, well above many other families, both in employment and on benefits
Judge Hamilton, Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court

Yacoob claimed that he, his wife and children suffered from various illnesses.

He was caught after staff became suspicious and he was reported to managers who called in police.

The judge told Yacoob: "You were regarded as being an expert in disability payments.

"What is apparent and abundantly clear to me is that you have systematically and cynically and dishonestly plundered the state benefits system for the benefit of you and your family.

"You lived to a standard which appeared, on the face of it, well above many other families, both in employment and on benefits."

Only Yacoob was prosecuted as he had "orchestrated" the claims for the entire family, the court heard.

Recoup money

Charges against his wife were dropped at an earlier hearing.

Iain Johnstone, mitigating, said the claims for his wife and children were initially legitimate but after their health improved he failed to notify a change in circumstances and stop claiming the payments.

A Proceeds of Crime Application is being pursued by the Department for Work and Pensions to try to recoup the lost money.

A spokeswoman for Manchester City Council said: "The council does not deal with the benefits that Mr Yacoob was found to be fraudulently claiming and it was the Department for Work and Pensions who undertook this prosecution.

"Some of the claims were set up before he started work with the council.

"The council has been fully supportive of both the investigators and our staff who raised their concerns to management."



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