Disability benefit fraudster jailed after taking part in arm-wrestling contest

Flash benefit fraudsters who drove luxury cars while claiming disability payments have been jailed after one was caught taking part in an arm-wrestling contest.

Four members of the Zarif family, who are landlords of numerous properties in their hometown of Blackburn, Lancashire, defrauded taxpayers of £51,514 in disability benefits and Carers’ Allowance, Preston Crown Court heard on Thursday.

A mobility car, a £37,000 BMW 320, belonging to one of their tenants, was also being used by a family member, and the benefits of another tenant who had died was stolen.

Ringleaders, Khalida Zarif, 51, the mother of the family, was jailed for 12 months, and her son Sakib Zarif, 33, for 15 months.

Khalida and Sakib Zarif
(l to r) Khalida and Sakib Zarif dancing at a family celebration, Khalida on her own and Sakib on his own (CPS/PA)

A joint investigation between Lancashire Constabulary and the DWP started in February 2019, after concerns were raised about the potential exploitation of some of their tenants.

Detective Sergeant Stu Peall, from Lancashire Police, said: “The Zarifs, particularly Sakib and his mum Khalida, were motivated by pure greed, telling lies or not updating the DWP so they could get money they were not entitled to.

“Not satisfied with conning the DWP out of thousands of pounds with lies about his condition, Sakib Zarif went even further, callously stealing money from a dead man, and drove a luxury BMW Motability car which he had no right to, having got it from another vulnerable tenant.”

Khalida claimed she had a complex series of disabilities, suffering incontinence, severe depression, chronic asthma, severe back pain, dizzy spells, diabetes, high cholesterol and panic attacks.

She said she needed a wheelchair and walking frame to get about.

Surveillance from Lancashire Police showed her walking without assistance, driving and carrying heavy shopping from the boot of her Mercedes car.

Sakib Zarif
Sakib Zarif was overpaid benefits of more than £13,500 (CPS/PSA)

She was overpaid in benefits of almost £24,000.

Her eldest child, Sakib, a keen body builder, claimed Carer’s Allowance to look after his mother and then also claimed disability benefits after he was the victim of an assault in 2016.

He claimed he could not cook, could only eat blended food through a straw, suffered low moods and relied entirely on his family for support and personal hygiene.

Police seized footage from family mobile phones showing Sakib dancing at family events and another clip showed him exercising in a gym and taking part in an arm-wrestling contest.

An investigation found he was overpaid benefits of £13,502.20.

He was also managing a number of other people’s Universal Credit claims and appeared to have access to their bank accounts, including for a tenant who had died, and using a BMW car another tenant had under the Motability scheme but was insured under his name.

Khalida Zarif
Khalida Zarif was overpaid in benefits of almost £24,000 (CPS/PA)

Sakib’s brother Faisal Zarif, 31 was overpaid £11,425.90 in Carer’s Allowance for his mother and sister. He was given a 20-week jail sentence suspended for one year.

Atif Zarif, 21, the youngest son, the carer for Sakib Zarif, received fraudulent payments of £2,611.05. He was given a 12-month community order and 200 hours unpaid work.

All four pleaded guilty at a hearing in January.

Khalida Zarif, Faisal and Atif Zarif admitted conspiracy to defraud, and Sakib admitted conspiracy to defraud, fraud and theft.

Senior crown prosecutor Adam Till, of CPS Mersey-Cheshire, said: “The Zarif family are wealthy and have amassed a large portfolio of properties in the Blackburn area.

“Most family members drive expensive German high-quality vehicles such as Mercedes-Benz or BMWs.

“The family were motivated by greed. They should be ashamed of themselves.”

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