A BENEFITS cheat who fraudulently pocketed more than £20,000 during his three-year scam has been locked up.
Shahid Sultan tricked the Department for Work and Pensions into believing he was jobless and had little savings.
But the 59-year-old was working at a Witney eatery while swindling the cash from the government department during a 145-week period.
Defence barrister Harry Warner urged Judge Zoe Smith not to send him straight to prison but she rejected his pleas, jailing Sultan for eight months.
Sentencing at Oxford Crown Court, the judge said only an immediate jail term was appropriate, adding: “This is a very serious matter. This was very dishonest and it was a dishonest claim from the outset.”
Electrician Sultan applied for employment support allowance, claiming he was unable to work on January 20, 2014, prosecutor Alexandra Bull said.
The defendant, of The Slade, Headington, Oxford, also duped the department into believing his wife was unemployed and the pair had no other income.
Benefits were then paid into his HSBC account by an automated credit transfer between December 2, 2014, and September 8, 2016 – receiving a £20,654.43 overpayment.
The fraudster told interviewing officers he needed the benefits due to health conditions but was aware he had to notify the department of any changes to employment.
Sultan went on to reveal he had been working at Ma Tandoori Ltd and divulged that his wife had been working for Boots since 1997.
The defendant also confessed he had failed to tell the Department for Work and Pensions he had more than £58,000 of savings in his bank account, the prosecutor said.
Mr Warner said Sultan, who had no previous convictions, landed himself in a ‘humiliating’ position and deeply regrets his offending.
He worked throughout his adult life after coming to the UK 30 years ago but became ‘extremely unwell’, undergoing dialysis and a kidney transplant in 2014.
The diabetic, who was in a ‘desperate way’, was then forced to claim benefits, the barrister added.
Mr Warner went on to say Sultan had an on-off relationship with his wife at the time and was not living with her when he submitted the fraudulent claim.
He added: “[This was] utterly of character. He is terrified of the prospect of a prison sentence.”
Sultan, who has been paying £150 back to the department since January and has more than £19,940 outstanding, admitted dishonestly making a false statement to obtain a benefit.