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London criminal gang ‘exploited Covid pandemic’ to steal £300k of benefits from government

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A London organised crime group (OCG) has been sentenced to a mixed whole of eight years and 4 months at Inner London Crown Court for committing £385,000 price of fraud.

Of the overall, £300,000 was defrauded from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), whereas the remaining £85,000 was defrauded from a Barking financial institution.

The group had been found in February 2020, when Santino Laskowski, 25, tried to open a checking account at a financial institution department in Barking, utilizing another person’s credentials and a fraudulently obtained utility invoice.

He was arrested on the financial institution, and his cell phone was examined by Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU) officers, a specialist City of London and Metropolitan police unit funded by the banking and playing cards trade.

Santino Laskowski, 25, tried to open a checking account at a financial institution department in Barking, utilizing another person’s credentials and a fraudulently obtained utility invoice

The telephone was discovered to include particulars of a number of fraudulently opened financial institution accounts within the names of others, and messages between Laskowski and Ali Tariq, one of the OCG members, exchanging fraudulent checking account info.

The fraud came about between February 2020 and October 2020 and concerned the next folks: Santino Laskowski, 25, (no handle recognized), Ali Tariq, 41, of Newham, East London, Karolina Zmijewska, 40, of Enfield, North London, Monika Gorska, 28 (resident of Poland), and Edyta Gorska, 36 (resident of Poland).

Later in February 2020, Tariq attended a financial institution in Queen Victoria Street with a Polish man to fraudulently open a checking account utilizing the male’s particulars.

Tariq was arrested, and officers discovered that the Polish man had been coerced into opening an account on behalf of Tariq for fraudulent functions.

0 Karolina ZMIJEWSKA

Bank worker Karolina Zmijewska was discovered to be concerned within the OCG

On the exact same day, financial institution worker Karolina Zmijewska was arrested on suspicion of committing fraud, after the financial institution recognized financial institution accounts that she had opened which matched the accounts of these in Laskowski’s telephone messages.

Zmijewska denied any wrongdoing when questioned, claiming she had opened the fraudulent financial institution accounts on behalf of a girl named Monika Gorska.

0 Monika GORSKA

Monika Gorska and her sister had been caught making an attempt to flee the UK

Whilst making an attempt to flee to Poland on 6 October 2020, Monika Gorska and her sister Edyta Gorska, who acted as an confederate, had been arrested and their cellphones had been examined.

In addition to proof corroborating the offences undertaken on the financial institution the place Zmijewska labored, proof from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) additionally confirmed that the pair had been exploiting the Covid-19 pandemic by fraudulently opening Universal Credit accounts within the names of Polish Nationals, so as to get hold of money from the government.

0 Edyta GORSKA

Edyta Gorska was discovered to have acted as an confederate

The DWP recognized that £300k had been fraudulently paid to these account holders.

The fraud was noticed by the financial institution and referred to the DCPCU to examine.

Detective constable Matt Cornell mentioned: “This criminal gang wrongfully thought they may get away with committing £385k of fraud, together with by exploiting the Universal Credit scheme.

“Fortunately, we had been ready to detect these criminals by working carefully with the financial institution to carry them to justice.

“This sentencing is a warning to those that imagine they will profit financially from fraud that they are going to be caught and punished.”

Will Quince, the minister for welfare supply on the Department for Work and Pensions, added: “I welcome these sentences which present we work with companions to relentlessly pursue organised criminals who set out to fleece the taxpayer for their very own achieve.

“I’m dedicated to driving down fraud within the benefits system, making certain the welfare security internet reaches these in want, and this consequence makes clear that crime doesn’t pay.”

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