Mother jailed for pretending son had cancer

La GardeSWNS

A mother of five from Stroud, Gloucester, has been jailed for nine years, after forcing her seven-year-old son to pretend to have cancer for four years - in order to cheat £86,000 out of the benefits system.

Judge Jamie Tabor said "This was cruelty over a long period of time."
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Fraud

Emma La Garde, 37, announced on Facebook that her son had cancer. She forged a doctor's letter, saying her son had lymphoma - a form of cancer. Then she shaved her son's head and eyebrows, and sent him to school in a wheelchair.

She used the fake illness to cheat the benefits system out of a carer's allowance, tax exemptions and disability benefits. She was given a wheelchair by the Red Cross, and a specially-adapted car. The money was used to send the family on luxury holidays - including a trip to Disney World in Florida.

Foiled

The boy's school, however, was unconvinced by the shaved head - and could see where the eyebrows were being shaved. La Garde had separated from the boy's father, and the school decided to show the forged doctors' letters to him. He contacted social services, and La Garde was arrested.

She pleaded guilty to child cruelty, fraud and forgery and was jailed for eight years and eight months. She has lost custody of all of her children, and at her trial the court heard a statement from the victim saying: "I don't like her, she is evil. She should be normal but I don't think she has a normal brain. I know I don't miss her any more."

Not alone

There are new and shocking stories about benefit fraud every day. Clearly this is an extreme case, but there's nothing unusual about fraud itself. The government's statistics show that last year £3.2 billion was lost through benefit fraud and error.

It has now made a firm commitment to tackling this fraud. Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud said: "We always push for the strongest possible punishment for benefit thieves who are stealing money from the people who need it the most. When it makes financial sense to do so, we will prosecute through the courts but where very little or no money has been stolen we will fine people as well as recover any overpayment, hitting fraudsters where it hurts the most. We are getting tougher and no one will escape justice with a mere slap on the wrists."

This is likely to mean more shocking stories like this hitting the headlines, and more fraudsters being brought to justice.

20 PHOTOS
HMRC's most wanted tax fugitives
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Mother jailed for pretending son had cancer

Name: Yehuda Cohen

Age: 35

Nationality: Israel

Court where warrant was issued: Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey)

Country believed to be in: Israel

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £800,000
Biography: For a number of years Yehuda Cohen ran two companies with the intention to defraud HMRC by committing VAT fraud worth approximately £800,000. In March 2011 Cohen was arrested at London Heathrow and later bailed but failed to return to court and is still on the run.
People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: Timur Mehmet

Age: 39

Nationality: UK

Region: London

Court where warrant was issued: Northampton Crown Court

Country believed to be in: Cyprus

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £25 million

Biography: Timur Mehmet is wanted for his role in a large-scale VAT fraud worth about £25 million. Mehmet absconded pre-trial in January 2008, but was found guilty in absence and sentenced to eight years.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: Emma Elizabeth Tazey

Age: 38

Nationality: UK

Court where warrant was issued: Maidstone Crown Court

Country believed to be in: USA

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £15 million

Biography: Tazey is wanted in connection with Gordon Arthur, another on the Most Wanted list. In March 1999 UK Customs detected 7 million illegally imported cigarettes with a duty and VAT value £1.16 million. A further 21 seizures of alcohol and tobacco were identified which can be attributed to Arthur, with a duty value exceeding £5.5 million and a revenue loss nearer £15 million. In February 2000 Tazey broke her bail conditions and absconded; a warrant for her arrest was issued.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: Sahil Jain

Age: 30

Nationality: India

Court where warrant was issued: Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey)

Country believed to be in: UK

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £328,000

Biography: Jain was arrested in connection with VAT fraud of about £328,000. He failed to appear at the Central Criminal Court and a warrant was issued for his arrest on 8 June 2012.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: Rory Martin McGann

Age: 43

Nationality: EIRE

Court where warrant was issued: Belfast Crown Court

Country believed to be in: Ireland

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £902,000

Biography: Rory McGann is wanted for VAT offences amounting to over £902,000. McGann was arrested in Ireland and appeared in court in November 2008. He received bail to reappear in December 2009 and never returned.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: Olutayo Owolabi

Age: 40

Nationality: UK

Court where warrant was issued: Wood Green Crown Court

Country believed to be in: UK

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £1 million

Biography: Olutayo Owolabi is still at large for 27 offences relating to tax credits and money laundering. In January 2010 Owalabi was convicted in absence and sentenced to nine months.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: Malcolm McGregor McGowan

Age: 60

Nationality: UK

Court where warrant was issued: Sheffield Crown Court

Country believed to be in: Spain

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £16 million

Biography: Between November 1999 and March 2000, Malcolm McGowan was involved in illegally importing more than 56,000 cigarettes, which in today’s market has a street value of more than £16 million. Malcolm and others went on trail in September 2001 where he pleaded not guilty, but before the trial ended McGowan fled abroad. In December 2011 McGowan was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to four years imprisonment. He was last believed to have been seen in Spain.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: Leigang Liang

Age: 38

Nationality: China

Court where warrant was issued: Lewes Crown Court

Country believed to be in: UK

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £2.6 million

Biography: In October 2010 HMRC and UKBA worked together to intercept 650 kilos of harmful counterfeit tobacco, 300,000 cigarettes and five tonnes of hand rolling tobacco imported illegally from China. Leigang Liang was the key player in this operation and his gang was arrested, tried and unanimously found guilty. Liang fled the court before the jury found him guilty. He was sentenced in absence to seven years.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: Mohamed Sami Kaak

Age: 45

Nationality: UK/Tunisia

Court where warrant was issued: Isleworth Crown Court

Country believed to be in: Tunisia

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £822,000

Biography: Between March 2005 and September 2006, Mohamed Sami Kaak smuggled nearly 4 million cigarettes into the UK, evading an estimated £822,000 in duty. Kaak was arrested and charged with 12 counts of conspiracy to fraudulently evade Customs duty. He failed to appear in court in June 2008 so a warrant was raised for his arrest. Kaak was tried in absence where he received a four year sentence.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: John Nugent

Age: 53

Nationality: UK/EIRE

Court where warrant was issued: Manchester Crown Court

Country believed to be in: USA

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £22 million

Biography: John Nugent fraudulently claimed more than £22 million in duty and VAT reclaims. Nugent was arrested and bailed, but he failed to appear in court and fled abroad. He is suspected to be in the US.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: Vladimir Jeriomin

Age: 34

Nationality: Ukraine

Court where warrant was issued: Liverpool Crown Court

Country believed to be in: Russia / Lithuania

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £4.8 million

Biography: Jeriomin was a member of an organised crime group that defrauded the public purse by making fraudulent claims for Income Tax Self Assessment repayments. The estimated loss of public money is thought to be £2 million. A warrant was issued for the arrest of Jeriomin after he failed to surrender.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: Wayne Joseph Hardy

Age: 49

Nationality: UK

Court where warrant was issued: Ipswich Crown Court

Country believed to be in: South Africa

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £1.9 million

Biography: Wayne Hardy and others conspired to cheat the public purse through tax fraud on tobacco products. Hardy assisted in sourcing a tobacco manufacturing and rolling machine and smuggling almost 16 tones of raw leaf tobacco into the UK. Hardy absconded before trail but was found guilty in absence and received a three-year sentence in October 2011.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: Dimitri Gaskov

Age: 27

Nationality: Estonia

Court where warrant was issued: Ipswich Crown Court

Country believed to be in: Estonia

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £197,000

Biography: Gaskov was part of a gang which concealed and smuggled an estimated three million cigarettes into the UK using desk top computers. After a long investigation Gaskov fled before the trial.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: Hussain Asad Chohan

Age: 44

Nationality: UK/Pakistan

Court where warrant was issued: Birmingham Crown Court

Country believed to be in: Dubai

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £200 million

Biography: Smuggler and fraudster Hussain Chohan is wanted after failing to appear in court for his part in an estimated £200 million fraud. Among other offences, Chohan imported 2.25 tonnes of tobacco worth £750,000 in duty alone. Chohan was tried in absence and found guilty. He received a total of 11 years in prison for smuggling and fraud offences and failing to appear in court. Along with his sentence Chohan has also been served with a £33 million confiscation order.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: Zafar Baidar Chisthi

Age: 33

Nationality: UK

Court where warrant was issued: Kingston on Thames Crown Court

Country believed to be in: Pakistan

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £150 million

Biography: Zafar Chisthi is wanted for his part in a large scale VAT fraud worth around £150 million. Chisthi failed to appear in court after being released on bail and was tried in absence and found guilty. He was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for conspiracy to defraud the public purse and one year for perverting the course of justice.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: Cesare Selvini

Age: 52

Nationality: Switzerland

Court where warrant was issued: Dover Magistrates Court

Country believed to be in: Switzerland

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £600,000

Bio: Cesare Selvini is wanted for concealing and smuggling platinum bars, thought to be worth around £600,000. Selvini failed to appear in court in June 2005 so a warrant was issued for his arrest.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: Gordon Arthur

Age: 60

Nationality: UK

Court where warrant was issued: Maidstone Crown Court

Country believed to be in: USA

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £15 million

Biography: In March 1999 UK Customs detected seven million illegally imported cigarettes with a duty and VAT value of over £1.1 million. A further 21 seizures of alcohol and tobacco were identified which can be attributed to Arthur with a duty value exceeding £5.5 million and a revenue loss nearer £15 million. In February 2000 Gordon Arthur broke his bail conditions and absconded; a warrant for his arrest was issued in June 2002.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: Nasser Ahmed

Age: 40

Nationality: UK

Court where warrant was issued: Bristol Crown Court

Country believed to be in: Pakistan / Dubai

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £156 million

Biography: Nasser Ahmed is wanted for his role in a large scale VAT fraud in the region of £156 million. Ahmed fled from court prior to verdict in February 2005. He was sentenced to six years in his absence in March 2005 and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: Adam Umerji aka Shafiq Patel

Age: 34

Nationality: UK

Court where warrant was issued: Liverpool Crown Court

Country believed to be in: Dubai

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £64 million

Biography: Adam Umerji is a wanted fraudster who stole an estimated £64 million from the UK tax payer. Umerji was tried in absence where he received a 12 year sentence for VAT fraud and five years for money laundering offences.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Name: Darsim Abdullah

Age: 42

Nationality: Iraq

Court where warrant was issued: Guildford Crown Court

Country believed to be in: Iraq

Estimated cost to taxpayer: £24 million

Biography: Darsim Abdullah was part of a 12 man crime group that laundered between £1 million and £4 million a month from the proceeds of crime. Eleven members of the group either were found or pleaded guilty to the offence but Darsim absconded before sentencing.

People can report leads on the Most Wanted fugitives via HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post bit.ly/PoT0Wx, or through the Crimestoppers website www.crimestoppers-uk.org

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