Sikander Rafiq and Samara Jabreen arrive at Birmingham Crown Court
A crooked couple have escaped a jail sentence despite swindling £66,000 in benefits by pretending to be a landlord and tenant during an eight-year con.
Sikander Rafiq, 34, and Samara Jabreen, 32, had lied to Birmingham City Council about their relationship and the fact they had three children together.
During an eight year period they pocketed a total of £66,268 for housing benefit, council tax benefit and income support.
Birmingham Crown Court heard Jabreen first lodged a genuine claim for income support in 2002.
But when Rafiq, of Northfield Road, Ward End, bought them a house on Northleigh Road, Ward End, in 2005, they began living the lie.
Blondelle Thompson, prosecuting, said Jabreen, of Edmond Road, Saltley, claimed to be a private tenant and asked her benefit payments be made to her landlord, Rafiq.
She signed declarations saying neither she nor her children were related to Rafiq. She even claimed single occupancy discount on her council tax payments, the court was told.
Jabreen pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to notify a change of circumstances and a charge of making a false representation.
Rafiq admitted a charge of furnishing false information regarding the tenancy agreement provided to the city council.
But after hearing of her ill-health and that she was the sole carer for their children, Jabreen was spared prison. She was sentenced to 22 weeks, suspended for 18 months, placed under supervision for 18 months and ordered to attend the Anawim probation project for 30 days.
Rafik, it was heard, acted out of desperation to pay their mortgage and not through greed. He was handed an 18 month sentence, suspended for 18 months and ordered to carry out 180 hours unpaid work.
Miss Thompson said: “At no time did she declare Rafiq was her partner or father of her children.”
In October 2011 a report was made to the city council’s fraud investigation team prompting an investigation.
Ms Thompson added: “The house was put under surveillance and his car was seen daily and was used by Jabreen.”
Life insurance documents and a Virgin Media account were both registered to Rafiq at the couple’s address.
Judge Roderick Henderson said Rafiq was a “dishonest” man who had once posed as his brother to avoid getting a criminal record. He said: “As far as you are concerned I get a very clear picture of a person who is dishonest and bends things to whatever benefits you at a particular time.
“You both pleaded guilty but when you came back to be sentenced you wanted to vacate your plea because you said you were not guilty at all.
“You then turned up and entered a guilty plea but put forward a false basis. You have behaved not only in a dishonest way in the history of the case but before the court.”
Jabreen, the judge said, had played a lesser role and had been encouraged by Rafiq.