British Media Unveil Huge Welfare Scam: £54 Million Fraud Linked to Bulgaria

Crime | May 29, 2024, Wednesday // 15:26|  views

@telegraph.co.uk

"The Bulgarian town that boomed from UK’s biggest benefits fraud."

This is the title of a Daily Telegraph article today, highlighting the largest welfare fraud and money laundering case in the UK, for which five Bulgarian citizens have been charged.

British media are abuzz with details of the case, according to the Bulgarian National Radio.

The accused Bulgarians—Gyunesh Ali, Galina Nikolova, Stoyan Stoyanov, Tsvetka Todorova, and Patritsia Paneva—are alleged to have embezzled nearly 54 million pounds from the British treasury. They reportedly made over 6,000 false claims for welfare payments using fake employment contracts and tenancies.

The Bulgarian city mentioned by the Telegraph is Sliven. Bulgarian inspector Vasil Panayotov from Sliven reported a large influx of cash and how some locals were living lavishly without clear sources of income. He traced these individuals to welfare benefits from Britain, even though they had never set foot there, and alerted British authorities.

In another article, crime correspondent Will Bolton detailed the gang's methods for securing welfare payments, including using fake birth certificates, employment contracts, and tenancies.

Katherine Lawton of the Daily Mail also covered the topic, stating in her headline that "a gang of Bulgarian fraudsters who raked in 54m pounds from Britain's biggest ever benefit fraud churned out bogus tenancy agreements, counterfeit payslips and forged landlord letters to trick DWP officials, a court heard."

The trial against the five began yesterday.

According to the indictment, the criminal scheme operated for nearly five years before the first arrests in May 2021, reported Nova TV correspondent Pavlina Trifonova from London. During searches, police found 750,000 British pounds in suitcases and bags, along with numerous false financial documents.

The accused used photos of people from Bulgaria on fake documents, fabricated birth certificates, and forged notes from GPs and schools to make false claims and welfare applications. Gyunesh Ali and Galina Nikolova are identified as the masterminds behind the forgery operations, according to the prosecution.

The sentencing is expected tomorrow at the Crown Court in the London Borough of Wood Green.

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Tags: Bulgarian, town, UK, fraud

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