Holiday hula benefit cheat ordered to pay back £318,000
- 27 November 2012
- From the section Hampshire & Isle of Wight
A benefit cheat who claimed almost £100,000 pretending to be disabled has been told to pay back £318,000 or spend another five years in jail.
Abdul Esfandmozd, 52, of Portsmouth, pretended to use a wheelchair but was filmed hula dancing and diving into a swimming pool while on holiday.
He was jailed for four years in August after being found guilty of fraud, deception and money-laundering.
A judge at Portsmouth Crown Court gave him nine months to repay the money.
If he fails to do so, he will spend a total of nine years in jail.
For 10 years, from 2000 to 2010, Esfandmozd claimed he was severely disabled and incapable of standing or walking except with crutches and reliant on a motorised wheelchair for mobility.
Still in wheelchair
He obtained the direct payments from Portsmouth City Council on top of other benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which totalled more than £140,000.
Throughout his trial in the summer, Esfandmozd, of Somers Road, Southsea, remained in his wheelchair and continued to claim he was severely disabled.
But the jury saw six hours of his home videos filmed on trips abroad which showed him walking long distances, swimming, dancing and carrying a woman in his arms with no apparent physical difficulty.
The court heard Esfandmozd's assets, which include several properties, amount to about £350,000.
When he attended court again last week he was still using a wheelchair.
Portsmouth City Council's financial investigator, Ed Skinner, said: "It's the largest disability fraud case in terms of value we have dealt with, and the longest in terms of time [he spent defrauding the council]."
Mother and son Jacqueline Taylor, 65, and Jason Gubb, 47, both from Bristol, who were employed as care workers of Esfandmozd for two years, later pleaded guilty to fraud offences.
Taylor was jailed for four months while her son received a suspended sentence at Portsmouth Crown Court in August.