Council prosecution leads to £350,000 judgement against fraudster
A benefit fraudster who tried to swindle Hammersmith & Fulham Council and other organisations out of more than £180,000 has been ordered to pay it back in compensation.
Zeyad El-Kaissi, 40, of Comeragh Road, West Kensington, was jailed for seven years in June 2015 after illegally claiming housing and council tax and other benefits over a 12-year period by creating a false identity, Sam Casey.
After the conviction, H&F Council began Proceeds of Crime action against Mr El-Kaissi to try and retrieve the lost funds and last week he was issued with a confiscation order for £350,000.
“This is a massive result for both us and our residents in recovering what was lost through this man’s deceitful actions,” said Cllr Lisa Homan, H&F Cabinet Member for Housing.
“Mr El-Kaissi claimed every benefit going to pay rent as ‘Sam Casey’ to himself. He then used that money to pay the mortgage on a home he’d bought through our Right to Buy scheme.
“This result shows that we won’t tolerate people who abuse the system and will take whatever action is necessary to remedy the actions of criminals.”
Through his dual identities he had claimed housing and council tax benefit, jobseekers’ allowance, employment and support allowance, incapacity benefit, disability living allowance, a disabled blue badge, public transport freedom pass and local authority housing.
The court case in 2015 was told Mr El-Kaissi had pretended to vacate his home, but remained living there as his rent-paying alter-ego.
His crimes were exposed following a thorough investigation by H&F Council’s Fraud Team.
A key element in their case was when Mr El-Kaissi made a benefit application to the neighbouring borough of Kensington and Chelsea and when compared to one submitted to H&F Council, the applications showed photos of the same person, but in one he was wearing a wig.
Following the recent Proceeds of Crime Act hearing, Mr El-Kaissi was ordered to pay £175,000 compensation to H&F Council, Kensington and Chelsea Council and the Department for Work and Pensions. The remainder will be confiscated.
The conviction was part of a crackdown on housing fraud by H&F which resulted in successful convictions and the return of almost £3million to the public purse.