An Iraqi asylum seeker illegally claimed over $1 million in benefits, bought three homes, and sent her son to a fee-paying private school, all courtesy of British taxpayers.
Mahira Rustam Al-Azawi, 49, used a series of false identities to milk Britain’s lax benefit system over eight years. Although she never worked, she was able to purchase three properties – two of which she rented out – worth in excess of $1.5 million. Her 18-year-old son was educated at Colfe’s School, in South-East London, where fees are currently $6,240 a term.
The fraud was uncovered only when Al-Azawi, from Iraq, successfully applied for a student loan to study civil engineering at Greenwich University.
When police raided her $1.2 million detached home in Bromley, they found an ‘Aladdin’s cave’ of false documents, including a selection of passports, identity papers and driving licences.
She had converted the garage into an office and described herself to neighbours as an ‘internet entrepreneur’. During her trial at Croydon Crown Court, it emerged that she had claimed for income support, housing and council tax benefits in her own name, as well as those of her cousin and mother. She also obtained two mortgages by claiming she was a self-employed businesswoman.
Judge Stephen Waller jailed Al-Azawi for three years after she was found guilty of 13 offences of benefit fraud, forgery and theft. Critics say the case highlights the welfare profligacy that grew unchecked under Labour. The new Government has promised to crack down on Britain’s ‘out of control’ benefits bill.
The court heard that Al-Azawi first came to Britain as a student, and went back to Iraq once she graduated. She later returned to Britain to claim asylum, and was given income support and housed by Lambeth council in south London. She travelled to Ireland for a brief period and claimed asylum under a different name, and was also given Irish nationality, as was her son.
In 1999, while still living in her Lambeth council home, she bought a property in Bromley. Four years later, she purchased her council residence under the right-to-buy scheme, and in 2005 she added another Bromley home to her growing portfolio.
Sentencing Al-Azawi, Judge Waller said: ‘These offences were committed over a period of eight years between 1999 and 2008 and were carried out in a sophisticated manner using different names and addresses, and false letters were used to support dishonest claims.
‘It enabled you to become the owner of three properties and to send your son to a private school.’ UK DAILY MAIL H/T Lee