The profoundly deaf ringleader of an £800,000 disability allowance scam has been jailed for nine years after spending the cash on diamonds and foreign holidays.
Shahab Reza, 52, set up a network of fake companies around the world while receiving benefits and persuaded his wife Shehnaz, daughter and son to take part in his crimes.
By submitting bogus invoices for sign language interpreters, the couple from west London duped officials out of the huge sum with ‘scandalous ease’, a court heard.
The cash from the elaborate scam was used to buy a luxury home, a £600,000 penthouse, gold jewellery, an £8,000 ‘flawless’ diamond, a holiday to Dubai and a ‘student jolly’ to America.
Shehnaz Reza, 53, and her children, Dr Abbas Reza, 26, and Zainab Reza, 22, admitted the scam took place but insisted they were ‘doing what they were told’.
Southwark Crown Court heard today that Reza’s wife and children have since ‘rejected’ him.
Judge John Price said that because of Reza’s deafness, he would be condemned to ‘a prison within a prison’.
Reza’s lawyer Rag Chand said he has ‘literally lost everything’.
Mr Chand said: ‘The idea that this defendant lured others physically is an affront to common sense, but Mr Reza, through me, wishes to convey to the court this – through the interpreter who sits behind me, he said this in conference this morning: ‘It was my fault. I should not have done it’.’
‘He can’t communicate with anybody. He doesn’t communicate with anybody.
‘He is the only person in his prison with this disability.
‘That has had a hugely significant impact on his emotional state.
‘He was certainly bullied at school for this disability and that has carried on at various stages throughout his adult life.
‘It is even conceivable that in prison that is something that will be visited upon him.
‘Greed got the better of this defendant and in my respectful submission that greed may have been more to do with pleasing others around him than necessarily his personal greed.’
Judge John Price said Reza, who has been deaf since birth, ‘had overcome that challenge very bravely’.
Shehnaz Reza, 53, (left) and her children, Zainab, 22, (centre) and Abbas, 26, (right), were found guilty of fraud charges at an earlier hearing. The jury could not reach a verdict on Zainab
‘You son and daughter both reject you now – and your wife – understandably, because of the way you dragged them into a dishonest fraud.
‘The aggravating factor is that you brought in your wife, you brought in your son, you brought in your daughter.’
Shahab Reza orchestrated the four-year con by submitting fake invoices for sign language interpreters to the Department of Work and Pensions through the Access to Work scheme.
The money was then laundered through six sham companies set up in Canada, the United Arab Emirates and the UK to claim thousands every month in bogus fees.
Shahab even used his connections at a local mosque and training college to recruit fraudsters to widen the scheme.
The couple’s son Abbas (pictured outside court) was found guilty of fraud charges at Southwark Crown Court at an earlier hearing
Southward Crown Court heard how Shahab and his wife Shehnaz, who are both deaf, oversaw a four-year benefit swindle on the Department of Work and Pensions using false invoices for sign language interpreters
Their ‘employees’ were given a cover story and paid hundreds of pounds a month for their ‘silence and co-operation’, the court heard.
The court previously heard how Daiva Alisauskaite, 43, and Natela Babina, 30, helped pull off the fraud by submitting fake invoices for sign language interpreters.
Alisauskaite made £8,000 while Babina pocketed £9,500, after they collectively submitted 48 false claims over 23 months.
They were both handed 12-month prison sentences, suspended for 18 months.
A jury had failed to reach verdicts against Zainab, Shehnaz and Abbas last December and they now face a retrial in September.
Shahab Reza received six years for conspiracy to defraud and two years consecutive for each count of obtaining a money transfer by deception and dishonestly obtaining exemption from liability.
He admitted his role in the con before the trial began.
His wife and son Dr Abbas Reza were both found guilty of fraud charges at an earlier hearing.
The jury has not yet reached a verdict on whether daughter Zainab, 22, was involved.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2965560/Profoundly-deaf-ringleader-800-000-disability-allowance-scam-weeps-jailed-nine-years.html#ixzz3SeqpSo3J
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