Couple jailed after claiming more than £100,000 in benefits while living in Lebanon (From Watford Observer)
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Couple jailed after claiming more than £100,000 in benefits while living in Lebanon
A husband and wife received benefits of more than £100,000 despite the fact they weren't even living in the country.
Lamis Naifeh and her husband Mahmoud had left their home in Bushey, and with their four children gone out to live in Lebanon.
St Albans crown court heard on Friday the family were out of the country between July 2007 and September 2008.
Then they returned home for just a month before going back to Lebanon where they stayed from October 2008 through to June 2011.
And all the time benefits were rolling in in the form of income support, carer's allowance, disability allowance, housing benefit, council tax benefit and tax credits
In all the amount of benefit fraudulently claimed amounted to £109,000.
The couple, of Cotswold Avenue, Bushey, were both in tears when they were jailed.
The 36 year old wife was jailed for 10 months while her 47 year old husband was jailed for seven months.
The court was told the couple are in the process of paying back the money but it will take years.
Recorder Andrew Mitchell QC was was told that after their arrest the couple claimed they had gone to the middle East so that their eldest daughter, who is disabled, could undergo a specialist operation and the money was used to pay for it.
The Recorder said he rejected that account saying although she had undergone some surgery out there, it hadn't taken place until 2010.
He said that when they had first made their claim for benefits while living in the Bushey, they had been legitimately entitled to them.
But he said they had failed to notify the Department of Work and Pensions when they left the UK.
The Recorder told the wife: "It appears you and your husband decided to go and live in Lebanon and continued to claim benefits without giving this a second thought."
The wife pleaded guilty to two offences of fraud and a third charge of being knowingly concerned in fraudulent activity undertaken with a view to obtaining payment of tax credits.
The husband admitted fraud and being knowingly concerned in fraudulent activity undertaken with a view to obtaining payment of tax credits.