A man from Iraq who is living in Devon claimed state benefits for more than a decade despite having thousands of pounds in savings has walked free from court.
Majid Hussain, of Exeter, was said to have fled his war-torn homeland during the early 90s with around £18k from his father.
The money was put into an account at the Royal Bank of Scotland and was intended for use as a trust fund for his children’s education, he told Exeter Crown Court.
But Hussain failed to declare the money, which was in his name, when applying for a host of means-tested benefits, from 1997 to 2010.
He received at least £35k in state benefits, though the exact figure cannot be confirmed as records do not go back to the start of his deception.
Hussain denied three counts of benefit fraud but was convicted by a jury.
Recorder Paul Dunkels QC sentenced Hussain, aged 62, to nine months in jail, suspended for two years.
He said: “The jury rejected that this money was held in trust for your children’s education.
“The (benefit) forms you filled in when making your claims made it perfectly clear that you had a duty to tell the authorities (of the money).”
The fraud only came to light when Inland Revenue checks found the account, prompting Hussain, a father-of-four, to be interviewed under caution.
He told investigators the money had not belonged to him but to his children – despite previously ticking a form denying they had any savings.
Hussain, who has several illnesses including Crohn’s disease, kept his head bowed throughout his sentencing.
The Recorder said: “The real extent of how much money (paid in benefits) can never be obtained because your fraud has gone on for such a long period of time.”