North London members of Britain’s biggest benefit fraud gang jailed

An investigation identified three ‘benefit factories’ in London where repeated false claims for benefits originated from

Wood Green Crown Court

Five members of an organised criminal gang which falsely claimed more than £53million in Universal Credit in the largest benefit fraud in England and Wales have been jailed.

Bulgarian nationals Galina Nikolova, aged 39 and of Wightman Road, Harringay; Stoyan Stoyanov, aged 28 and of Wightman Road, Harringay; Tsvetka Todorova, aged 53 and of Holly Hill Road, Erith; Gyunesh Ali, aged 34 and formerly of Beech Road, Friern Barnet; and Patritsia Paneva, aged 27 and of Melford Road, Leytonstone, have all been sentenced at Wood Green Crown Court to a combined total of more than 25 years after pleading guilty to fraud and money laundering offences.

They were all involved in a multi-million-pound scam on the benefit system and were sentenced to eight years, four years, three years, seven years and three months, and three years and two months imprisonment, respectively.

Ben Reid, specialist prosecutor for the CPS, said: “This case is the largest benefit fraud prosecution ever brought to the courts in England and Wales.

“For a number of years, these defendants conspired to commit industrial-scale fraud against the Universal Credit system, costing the taxpayer more than £53million.

“Submitting thousands of false claims, the organised criminals enriched themselves from government funds designed to protect and help the most vulnerable people in our society.

“This was a complex and challenging case which required close and effective working between CPS prosecutors, the Department for Work and Pensions and our international partners in both Bulgaria and through the UK desk at Eurojust, to dismantle and successfully prosecute the organised crime group. The guilty pleas entered by all five defendants, reflected the strength of the evidence against them.

“The CPS and DWP will now pursue confiscation proceedings against the defendants, to remove from them any available criminal benefit from this enterprise.”

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