England

A4e staff faked DWP welfare-to-work payment claims

Four people have been found guilty of taking part in a fraud at welfare-to-work company Action 4 Employment (A4e).

It comes after six others admitted their part in the scam, in which fraudulent claims for a lone parent scheme were made to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Police said staff had pretended to find employment for fictitious people, or for clients who had not yet found work, in order to get bonuses or hit targets.

Three other defendants were acquitted.

Andrew Dutton, A4e Group chief executive, said: "As soon as A4e's internal systems brought this incident to light in November 2010, we alerted the Department for Work and Pensions and carried out an investigation. We also co-operated fully with the police investigation which today's verdicts bring to a conclusion.

"The improvements we've made to our systems and controls now make it highly unlikely that this kind of incident could happen again."

£1.3m claimed

Thames Valley Police began investigating A4e's Slough branch and the Aspire to Inspire lone parent mentoring programme in May 2011.

The force said, although the £1.3m claimed from the DWP for the scheme between 2008 and 2010 was not directly received by the employees, many of them were given bonuses for each person they helped into work or for meeting targets.

Documents apparently signed by candidates and employers to show successful job outcomes were, in fact, produced and signed by staff, police said.

A DWP spokesman stressed the convictions related to "historical payments" and were nothing to do with current government employment schemes.

"The DWP treats any allegation of fraud by its contractors very seriously and we fully co-operated with the police throughout their investigation and supported the criminal proceedings," he said.‬

The defendants were:

  • Ines Cano-Uribe, 38, of Madrid, Spain, was found guilty of one count of forgery and one count of conspiracy to make false instruments. She was cleared of another count of forgery and one of conspiracy to use false instruments.
  • Zabar Khalil, 35, of Dolphin Road, Slough, was found guilty of one count of forgery but not guilty on three other counts of the same charge.
  • Matthew Hannigan-Train, 30, of Westacre Close, Bristol, was found of one count of conspiracy to make false instruments.
  • Hayley Wilson, 27, of Middlesex Drive, Milton Keynes, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to make false instruments.
  • Dean Lloyd, 38, of Rochfords, Coffee Hall, Milton Keynes, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of forgery.
  • Julie Grimes, 52, of Monks Way, Staines, Middlesex, pleaded guilty to nine counts of forgery.
  • Aditi Singh, 31, of Elmshott Lane, Slough, pleaded guilty to three counts of forgery.
  • Bindiya Dholiwar, 28, of Reddington Drive, Slough, pleaded guilty to six counts of forgery and one count of possession of articles for use in frauds.
  • Nikki Foster, 31, of High Tree Drive, Earley, Wokingham, pleaded guilty to seven counts of forgery and one of conspiracy to make false instruments.
  • Charles McDonald, 44, of Derwent Road, Egham, Surrey, pleaded guilty to six counts of forgery and one of conspiracy to make false instruments.

Yasmin Ahmad, Sarah Hawkins and Serge Wyett were acquitted of all counts.

The trial at Reading Crown Court took 13 weeks. Sentencing is due to begin on 30 March.

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