Fraudster narrowly escapes jail time

A man who fraudulently claimed almost £170,000 in Direct Payments, taking money away from those in real need, has escaped jail time.

Aamer Pervez, 43, of Arborfield Close, Slough, appeared in Reading Crown Court on Friday 15 March, and pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud, contrary to Section 1 and Section 3 of the Fraud Act 2006, by dishonestly failing to disclose information he had a legal duty to disclose when making his application(s) for Direct Payments. 

Direct Payments are payments from a local authority to buy in a person’s own care services. They are assessed in terms of care a person needs and assessed regarding means.

In November 2014, Mr Pervez completed a Financial Circumstances Application Form, and based on the information he supplied, he was advised that he would not be required to make any financial contribution to his care package. The capital threshold for receipt of Direct Payments is £23,250. 

In signing the form, Mr Pervez declared that the information was true and correct and accepted that he had a duty to report any changes in his circumstances.

However, he bought a second property at Nova House in 2016 and did not declare it then, nor at an annual review in 2017. This would have meant he was ineligible to receive Direct Payments. 

An investigation into the payments began following a referral to the council’s corporate fraud team, from the adult social care team, who had concerns.  

It was then discovered he bought a third property in Arborfield Close in 2021 and began renting out his first home in Victoria Street. In total, he was receiving £1,800 a month in undeclared rent and neither of these changes were reported to the council. 

The court heard how Mr Pervez failed to declare his true financial circumstances over a period of six years, between 24 August 2016 and 16 December 2022, and received £169,435.42, which he was not entitled to.

Marc Gadsby, the council’s Executive Director of People (Adults), gave a witness statement which was read in court, explaining how the actions of Mr Pervez had impacted others in Slough.

It read: “This money could have been used to provide the following: Care Home provision for 1 adult for 3.5 years, or Employment of 3 Social Workers, or Provision of domiciliary care to vulnerable people in their homes for 9,000 hours.

“The fraudulently obtained payments made to Aamer Pervez meant the money was not available in our budget, directly affecting the residents of Slough who are entitled to adult social care and the provisions available to them.”

In summing up, the judge HHJ Khan, said it was a serious offence that would merit a custodial sentence, but then took into account Mr Pervez’s health issues and family commitments. 

Mr Pervez was handed a 19-month custodial sentence, suspended for two years, for count one, and for count two, the same sentence, to run concurrently. 

He must also attend 15 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days within a 12-month period.

The council plans to use Proceeds of Crime legislation to recover the stolen funds and will also claim for costs at the end of those proceedings. 

Councillor Anna Wright, lead member for public health, social care and wellbeing, said: “This is a disgraceful abuse of a system which is designed to help those in need to get the care they need. The impact this fraud has had on the lives of other Slough residents cannot be overstated. The money he fraudulently claimed equates to 9,000 hours of care, which others could have benefited from. 

“He had many opportunities over the years to admit the truth, but instead he continued with his lies about his financial and living situation. We will be pursuing him for all the money he received fraudulently. 

“We hope this case acts as a reminder to anyone claiming a benefit, to ensure they report any change in circumstances, in case it affects their eligibility.”

Published: 20 March 2024