A fraudster has been jailed for 14 months after being found guilty of 27 counts of fraud following an investigation by Merton and Barnet councils.
Mr Viren Amin, aged 39, of Pinner Road Harrow was sentenced at Harrow Crown Court after the judge was told how he scammed more than £4,000 from Merton and £28,000 from Barnet.
Mr Amin first came to the attention of Merton officers in Nov 2013, when suspicions were raised over a series of council tax payments and refunds for properties in Merton. Each request for a refund was made against an account which appeared to have been purposely overpaid using stolen cheques. Mr Amin used false identities to contact the council, informing officers of a change of circumstances which resulted in money being paid back to him. The cheque payments were all made via the Allpay system which was traced back to a Post Office in Harrow.
Merton’s council tax team contacted every London borough to make them aware of the scam and during the council’s internal audit investigation it became clear that the same individual was being chased by Barnet. Both council’s internal audit teams then set up a collaborative partnership to bring the case to court.
Cabinet member for finance and deputy leader of Merton Council, Councillor Mark Allison said, “I want to thank the internal audit and council tax teams for identifying the scam at an early stage and potentially saving the council thousands of pounds. They also showed great initiative by notifying all London authorities about the individual. Our message to the criminals is we will not tolerate anyone who tries to defraud our council tax payers.”