A Sussex landlord has been convicted of a £21k benefit fraud, after it was revealed that he had failed to declare rental income from a property he was letting out.
Bab Saracouli, 43, of Barons Way, Polegate in East Sussex was found guilty of pocketing more £21,391 in council tax relief and housing benefits whilst also trousering £775 in monthly rental payments from a property he part owns in Watford. The rental payments were paid into a bank account that Saracouli had repeatedly failed to disclose.
Saracouli was not jailed. Instead, he received a suspended sentence and a four month curfew from the judge at Hove Crown Court in August. The curfew runs from 10:30pm until 5am daily. He pleaded guilty to 12 charges of dishonestly making a false statement with a view to obtaining benefit. Costs of £3590 were also awarded to Wealden and the council has been awarded “beneficial interest” in the undeclared property in the hope they can be reimbursed.
The court heard that Saracouli had made a number of applications for housing benefits and council tax help between November 2005 and September 2009. At this time, Watford Borough Council informed Wealden District Council that he had an interest and income from a Watford property.
Cllr Pame Doodes, said on behalf of Wealden District Council: “People who think they can get away without declaring all their assets and then take hard working taxpayers for a ride, should think again. Our enforcement team and others across the country are adept at identifying undeclared income and assets – in this case it was a property miles away in Watford on which Mr Saracouli was still receiving rental income. They work together on investigations to ensure that benefits are not wasted on those who already have other means of support.”