Universal Credit benefit cheat lied about having kids to pocket £22k

Aqeeb Karim
-Credit: (Image: Birmingham Mail / Live)


A benefit cheat lied about caring for two children and paying rent to swindle more than £22,000 in Universal Credit. Aqeeb Karim, who had lost his job, took advantage of lax evidential requirements during the Covid-19 pandemic to start a claim.

The 25-year-old then kept up with the fraudulent claims for two years and was too embarrassed to share what he had done with his family. Aqeeb pleaded guilty to a single offence of dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a benefit.

Despite being told he had contributed towards public ill-feeling against supposed 'scroungers', he avoided jail at Birmingham Crown Court on f June 20. This leniency resulted primarily from his current employment status and begun repayments towards the falsely claimed sum.

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He was instead handed a 12-month sentence suspended for two years, with 25 days of rehabilitation activity and 200 hours of unpaid work, reports Birmingham Live.

Aqeeb illicitly collected £22,958.13 from the Department for Work and Pensions between May 13, 2020, and April 12, 2022. Prosecutor Emma Richards said: "The defendant was in receipt of Universal Credit for him and two dependent children. He said he was not working and liable to pay rent to a private landlord. He had no health conditions, no savings or other income."

She explained that the process for benefit claims was 'relaxed' during the Covid pandemic to enable people to be paid quicker without face-to-face meetings and without the same requirements to produce evidence. The court was informed that Midland Housing refuted Aqeeb's claim that he was renting a property from them, while it was confirmed he was not receiving child benefit.

He then admitted that he had 'fabricated' his housing and child-related costs. Ms Richards said: "He admitted the two children were not his and the address was owned by his parents and he didn't pay rent."

Joshua Radcliffe, defending, described Aqeeb as 'remorseful and regretful' for his actions. He mentioned that Aqeeb had begun repaying at £200 a month but planned to increase this amount to almost £1,000 soon, having started his own recruitment business.

The barrister also noted that Aqeeb, of Sparkhill, Birmingham, was 21 years old when he began the fraudulent claim and felt 'cultural obligations' to financially support his family.

Recorder Lower, in sentencing, said: "You will understand that there are people who take the view people who claim benefits are scroungers who can't be bothered to work, can't be bothered to get out of bed and think someone else should fund their life. When people defraud the system that just adds to that feeling everyone on benefits is treating them as a racket rather than as help when help is needed.

"That's why many people resent the fact they pay tax and some of the money goes to benefits, you have contributed to that bad feeling."

The judge lambasted Aqeeb's prolonged scam as 'stupid multiplied'. He added: "You have chosen not to tell your family you are in the predicament you are in because you are ashamed about the facts of your conviction and if known to your family they would be in absolute disgrace."

Recorder Lower decided to suspend the sentence on account of Aqeeb's employment, stating: "If I were to send you to custody that realistically would be the end of your job and the end of your job of course means the end of your payments to the DWP."

He added: "Taxpayers would not only have to pay for your accommodation in prison but taxpayers would still lose out because you wouldn't be paying back the money you effectively stole."

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