DCSIMG

Portsmouth benefits cheat told to repay £318,000

A holiday photograph of Abdul Russell Esfandmozd

A holiday photograph of Abdul Russell Esfandmozd

A BENEFITS cheat who said he was confined to a wheelchair but was caught hula dancing on holiday has been told to pay up more than £300,000 or face five more years in jail.

Abdul Esfandmozd lived a lie for 10 years, claiming to be disabled and receiving nearly £100,000 in benefits from Portsmouth City Council.

He was caught after council officers noticed records he was supposed to keep of the money he spent on carers were not in order.

A search of his flat uncovered home-videos of him on holiday, dancing, swimming and in one even lifting a woman up.

As reported in The News the 52-year-old was jailed for four years at Portsmouth Crown Court in August after he was found guilty of two counts of fraud, two of obtaining money by deception and three of entering into a money laundering arrangement, following a seven-day trial.

Esfandmozd, of Somers Road, Somers Town, Portsmouth, was in court again for a hearing to claw back the money he made through crime.

Between 2000 and 2010, he claimed £98,730 in disability payments from the council which he has now been told to pay back.

Judge Munro ruled that his total gain through crime was £318,593.21 and gave him nine months to pay up.

That includes the money he got from the council and about £140,000 he claimed from the Department for Work and Pensions but was never prosecuted for.

The total also includes profit on two properties Esfandmozd bought with his fraudulently-claimed cash.

The judge had to repeatedly ask him to be quiet as he continued to shout from the back of the court, saying: ‘I still trust British justice.’

Despite having been exposed as a fraudster he insisted on using his wheelchair to get in to court.

The council’s solicitor Michael Lawther said: ‘We’re very pleased that the court has made these rulings.

‘Esfandmozd stole a substantial amount of money from Portsmouth taxpayers and we’re pleased we’ll be able to recover it.’

James Kellam, CPS Wessex Crown Advocate expert in Proceeds of Crime said: ‘If he doesn’t pay the money, he will serve a further, consecutive sentence of imprisonment of five years.

‘The Crown Prosecution Service can also apply to the court for a receiver to be appointed to seize property belonging to the defendant and sell it to pay the order.’

 

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