A Deepings shopkeeper has been jailed for using multiple fake identities to obtain £68,000 in tax credits and benefits.
In the summer of 2014 Immigration Enforcement, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) were all separately investigating a man who appeared to be operating under multiple identities.
When agencies compared notes, using the East Midlands Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN), Monjur Miah, a Bangladeshi national living in the Market Deeping area, was identified.
Lincolnshire Police were made aware and, in May 2015, conducted searches to gather further evidence and arrested Miah.
It turned out the 43-year-old, who ran a corner shop in his neighbourhood, had fraudulently obtained a Bangladeshi passport under an alias and simultaneously held three UK driver’s licences.
On arrest Miah was found with 28 different bank cards, none in his name. Numerous mobile phones were lined up in his office, with names and phone numbers written on the back. A large number of bank books, card readers and other items connected with fraud were also found.
Using these fake identities Miah had accessed £62,000 in Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits, a total of £6,000 in income support and housing benefit and applied for a second National Insurance number.
Miah’s Western Union MSB licence, which allowed him to act as a money transfer agent, was subsequently cancelled.
During a search of his former home in Deeping St James, another man from Bangladesh, whose immigration visa had expired, was also discovered and arrangements made for his deportation.
In December at Lincoln Crown Court Miah, of Norfolk Road in Barking, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of fraud and identity offences against HM Revenue and Customs, the Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement, the DVLA, the DWP, South Kesteven District Council and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Council.
On Monday Miah was jailed for a total of two years and three months.
Recorder P Mann QC called him a “professional fraudster in a case of greed not need”.
He will also face action under the Proceeds of Crime Act and be considered for deportation at the end of his sentence.
Lesley Donovan, GAIN Coordinator for the region, part of the East Midlands Special Operations Unit, said: “This case illustrates just how effective we can be when the different agencies are linked in together. More and more GAIN is facilitating this type of joint working leading to stronger cases and successful prosecutions.
“Had Miah been dealt with in isolation the degree of his fraudulent activity may not have been conveyed as such a rich picture in court. The result is a jail term befitting of the full extent of his offending.”
PC Damian Tidder, who works in CID at Lincolnshire Police, said: “Mr Miah had been deceiving the state for some time through an elaborate fraud involving a number of identities, and had been obtaining money he was not entitled to.
“Working with the HMRC in particular, the scale of his activities was presented to the court and he was given a proportionate sentence after pleading guilty at his first opportunity.”
Stuart Taylor, of the HMRC Fraud Investigation Service, said: “Miah went to great lengths to hijack an identity in order to claim tax credits he was not entitled to. This was stealing money that should have been funding vital public services in the UK.
“He is now paying for his crimes behind bars but this does not end at sentencing, as HMRC will work with the police to take action to claw back the money he stole. The message is clear – tax fraud doesn’t pay.
“If you know anyone who is committing tax fraud, contact our 24-hour hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
Chris Hare, DWP head of Central Criminal Investigations, said: “Only a small minority of people try to cheat the benefits system, but cases like this show how we are rooting out those who are stealing taxpayers’ money and diverting it away from the people who really need it.”
Sue Williams, DVLA senior operations manager, said: “When fraud was detected by the DVLA, as a result of standard checks, intelligence was passed to the police and search warrants were conducted.
“We are very pleased that, through multiple agencies sharing information, a conviction has been secured.”