Indian-origin woman jailed for benefit fraud

March 21st, 2009 - 4:55 pm ICT by IANS  

London, March 21 (IANS) An Indian-origin woman and her boyfriend have been sent to prison after admitting to claiming 43,000 pounds in state benefits meant for the poor and disabled, while sailing around the world in a luxury yacht worth 100,000 pounds.
Shashi Bacheta, 52, and Jeffrey Cole, 58, admitted 20 charges connected with the elaborate five-year-long fraud. Bacheta was jailed for 21 months at Swansea Crown Court in Wales, while Cole was jailed for nine months Friday.

Bacheta, a mother of three, claimed she was so ill she could not even get out of bed, while in reality she was scuba diving in Kenya and holidaying in the Canary Islands.

Swansea Crown Court heard that at various times between October 2002 and January 2008 she claimed housing benefit, council tax relief, income support and disability living allowances - state-funded benefits that are meant to support those who are on low incomes or too ill to work.

The couple were tracked down after fraud investigators came across a blog with photographs of Bacheta and Cole on their yacht, the Kismet.

Judge Huw Davies told Bacheta: “You were in perfectly good health and took active holidays to travel so much of the world. You went on safari and sailing the seas in a private yacht.

“You were guilty of a set of cynical offences of defrauding the benefit system. There was a degree of sophistication in what you did. You sought to get round the checks as a challenge to your ingenuity.”

And he told Cole: “You bought a yacht for 100,000 pounds having sold some of your properties. You set off to enjoy your personal wealth and money extracted from public funds.”

Bacheta’s daughter was fined 500 pounds after admitting fraudulently claiming several hundred pounds for being her mother’s carer.

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