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Benefits expert falsely claims disability

A MANCHESTER City Council benefits advisor cheated the public out of £75,000 by claiming he was disabled.

Ironically, Laqad Yacoob, from Stretford, worked checking whether benefits claims were genuine for the council and had registered his whole family as disabled.

The 40-year-old genius, who had used his expert knowledge to exploit the system in which he worked, was discovered when colleges spotted him break-dancing at a staff party at Manchester Town Hall.

The Manchester Evening News (MEN) reports that it was discovered that Yacoob had claimed disability living allowance, carer’s allowance and income support for his family and himself.

In addition, an investigation revealed that the cheeky devil had a new BMW and a VW Golf thanks to the government funded Motability scheme, a program which allows people to exchange their Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance for a new car.

Yacoob was found guilty of 11 counts of falsely obtaining benefits. He was sentenced to 14 months in prison.

Upon sentencing Judge Iain Hamilton said: “You have systematically, cynically and dishonestly plundered the state benefits system for the benefit of yourself and your family. That seems to me to be wholly and totally unacceptable. You lived to a standard well above many other families, both in employment and those who have to rely on benefits.”

Yacoob, who resigned in October 2008 after his scam was revealed, gained extensive knowledge of the benefits system by working for Manchester City Council for around four years. He had also worked at the Citizens Advice Bureau and at Trafford social services in financial assessment.

He had claimed for disability benefits by saying he had panic attacks and spinal pains. Reports suggest the injuries may have been caused by too much break-dancing.

However, Natalia Cornwall, prosecution counsel, called Yacoob’s claims “grossly exaggerated”.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) revealed that he had been plundering weekly benefits in the region of £500.

Defence representative, Iain Johnstone, made the point that a number of the claims had been legitimate, this was the case when he claimed for his children, but added that his client had not informed the DWP when his kids’ health had improved.

Shaida, Yacoob’s wife who apparently claimed to need a carer when she left the house in case she fell but was spotted driving the free cars her husband had nabbed, wept when he was jailed. Reports suggest she doesn’t like getting the bus.

“Because of his job they have tried to make him a scapegoat. Lots of other people have committed more serious frauds and have not been given such a long sentence. They want to make an example of him,” Shabana Khan, Yacoob niece, told MEN.

Bernard Priest, Manchester City Council spokesman, said: “I am pleased justice has been done.”

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