Thousands claimed in benefit fraud

editorial image

A CONMAN had six different jobs – including working in a recruitment agency – while falsely claiming £45,856 incapacity benefit over eight years.

Father-of-one Conrad Nyari, 43, of Fountains Avenue, Bridlington, claimed that crippling arthritis meant he could not perform day-to-day tasks while secretly working for Staff Finders Recruitment, Hull Crown Court heard last Thursday.

Married Nyari, who inherited property, said he was so ill he was unable to find work for eight years in order to qualify for benefit.

He raked in a salary on top of benefit making a seeming “painful” recovery which went undetected.

At Hull Crown Court he was exposed as a welfare scammer who in one year raked in £20,468 from work.

Despite his illness he didn’t use a walking stick to make it in or out of court and maintains his doctors say he is still unfit for work.

He has not paid a penny back and looks unlikely ever to clear the debt.

Judge Michael Mettyear told Nyari: “I am sorry to say this was quite deliberate false behaviour. You knew full well you were not entitled to the benefit you were getting.

“A large amount of money was lost to the pot – some £45,000.

“There is no realistic likelihood of that money being paid back. It is lost to public funds. I don’t see why you should not serve a custodial sentence.”

Nyrai admitted one offence of failing to notify a change in circumstances – namely he was working – which led to him to fraudulently claim incapacity benefit from November 1, 2001 to May 25 2009.

The fraud was exposed in an investigation by the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP).

Barrister for the DWP Richard Thompson said Nyari’s fraudulent activity may have been carried out over an even longer period.

“He claimed incapacity benefit from May 1998 stating that he had arthritis,” said Mr Thompson.

“He claimed to be suffering from swelling and suffering pain and that he was incapable of work.

“This was not the case. In August 1999 he found employment with Staff Finders Recruitment.

“He was employed by six different employers between 1999 and 2009. In one year he earned £20,468.

“In other years he earned amounts less than this. When he was questioned by investigators he admitted he was working full-time. “He said he was in debt. He offered no other explanation.”

Defending barrister Anil Murray said Nyari was a non-smoker, didn’t drink and had not lived the high life on his extra cash. He accepted the claim had mounted up over the years to a considerable sum.

He said it started out as a legitimate claim and was now working as a cleaner which was why he had not – like others – begun paying back within the benefits system.

“He found himself in a situation where he could not make ends meet,” said Mr Murray. “He could not pay the mortgage, the bills. “Despite suffering from pain he went back to work. He worked to help his family.”

Mr Murray said Nyari would have been entitled to other benefits at the time having worked in low-paid, sometimes manual jobs.

“He suffers from money problems,” said Mr Murray. “He was bequeathed a house. But the family struggled. This was re-mortgaged and now more is owed than the house is worth. On top of that they have debts of £50,000.”

“They are a family that cannot manage money. He has a 15-year-old daughter who has the stress of GCSEs.

“Not wishing to be too critical, he pleaded guilty at an early stage and it has taken until now – almost a year on – to be sentenced. He has had the stress of this hanging over him for a considerable period of time. He is someone who cannot organise his finances.”

Judge Mettyear ordered he should be jailed for two months. Stunned at this, Nyari immediately said: “Just a minute. I can pay back £5 a week.”

But he was cuffed and taken to cells below court and a waiting prison van. He will serve just half of his sentence before early release.

Nyari will also face a confiscation hearing on April 17 at Hull Crown Court.