March 11 2014 Latest news:
by Pat Coughtrey
, News Editor
Monday, April 9, 2012
A jetset couple who swindled at least £700,000 in benefits to build a “property empire at the taxpayer’s expense” are behind bars.
Afonso Daniel, 44, and his common-law wife Ana Ferreira, 31, used a wealth of fake documents to make bogus tax credit claims in 30 different identities.
Daniel enjoyed trips around the globe on the profits from the six-year “sophisticated attack” on a system designed to support working families on low wages.
The pair, who have four young children and joint Angolan nationality, used the money to make investments in five properties in Britain and Portugal.
A sixth address, a Newham Council-owned terraced house in Newlands Street, Silvertown, was used to register some of the benefits. They had previously lived in Stubbs Point, Plaistow, before setting up home in Frome, East Tilbury, Essex.
Daniel was jailed for four years and three months on Wednesday while Ferreira for two years and five months.
Gideon Cammerman, prosecuting, said DWP investigators swooped on April 7, last year, following a surveillance operation.
The couple got friends and family to obtain National Insurance numbers for making the claims.
They then set up front companies to pose as employers of the applicants, and bogus bank accounts for the benefits to be paid into.
Daniel also falsely reported a succession of his own passports stolen to feed them into the con.
Daniel travelled extensively, at least 18 trips to Portugal between 2005 and 2009, and to Madrid, Turkey, Dubai and the Caribbean.
The authorities have frozen UK assets, including bank accounts and properties.
Prosecutors have started confiscation proceedings to try and claw back some of the money.
Daniel and Ferreira admitted conspiracy to defraud the Revenue and conspiracy to possess false identity documents.
Mike Boardman, defending Daniel, said the cheat “is doing whatever he can to put matters right and to get back to his children.”
Adam Wiseman, defending Ferreira, said her part in the scam had been “parasitic”.
Judge Nigel Gerald said: “This was a prolonged, sustained, systematic, carefully planned, exacted and sophisticated attack on the tax credit system.”