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Gang pocketed tax credits after setting migrants up in BritainFour family members found guilty after trial at Nottingham Crown CourtA fifth defendant, one of their partners at the time, pleaded guiltyThe gang organised housing and NI numbers for workers from SlovakiaTax credits were then paid into a bank account controlled by the gang
A Czech family have been found guilty of stealing £500,000 of taxpayers’ money by flying in ‘benefit tourists’ to claim tax credits.
Sisters Iveta and Magdalena Ferkova, 32 and 33, along with their aunt Alena Lackova, 39, and her husband Jan Lacko, 29, organised housing and National Insurance numbers for workers from Slovakia.
In exchange for setting the migrants up in Britain, often including a house and low-paid job, the gang pocketed the tax credits handed out to the foreign workers.
Between January 2008 and April 2010, the four swindled more than £500,000 from the HMRC in tax credits which was paid into a bank account controlled by the gang.
The four were all found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by making false representations after a week-long trial at Nottingham Crown Court.
A fifth defendant, Julius Ziga, 34, who was Magdalena’s partner at the time, pleaded guilty to conspiracy.
The court heard the gang, from Nottingham, posed as interpreters for the workers they flew over to Britain when conducting interviews with HMRC, in banks and at Job Centres.
They helped the workers claim tax credits but the cash was paid into a newly-opened bank account controlled by the gang.
Once the benefits were paid into the bank accounts the foreign nationals were then sent back to their native country.
HM Revenue and Customs officers discovered 124 bank accounts set up to receive cash from 77 false tax credits totalling around £535,000.
The court heard the family used the cash to fund a lavish lifestyle including gambling in casinos around the UK as well as splashing out on luxury cars including a Mercedes and BMW 5 series.
Judge James Sampson said: ‘In the case of each of the defendants, the prosecution say he or she agreed with the other’s knowledge to commit a fraud.
‘The prosecution say they had a common aim and shared resources to commit a fraud.
‘The fact they are all charged with the same conspiracy doesn’t mean they are all as deeply involved. They played different roles.’
Abdul Iqbal, defending Lacko, said no money passed to his client’s bank account from the fraud and he did not get the National Insurance numbers for any claimant.
Lackova’s barrister, Arshad Khan, said: ‘There is no evidence she lived a life of Riley.’
The five will be sentenced on November 4.
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