Suspected member of child trafficking gang jailed for £800,000 benefits fraud _ UK news _ The Guardian housing benefit number bolton

Telus dumitru, 36, was sentenced to four years and eight months in jail after pleading guilty to masterminding a £800,000 fraud involving UK housing benefit, tax credits, income support and child benefit.

Dumitru is believed by police to be the most senior UK-based figure so far brought to justice from a roma gang from south-east romania whose members are accused of trafficking children who then beg and steal across the south of england.

Seven other gang members from near the small town of tandarei were also sentenced at southwark crown court, while 26 more remain on trial in romania on charges of trafficking children into the UK for the purpose of forced criminality, money laundering, membership of a criminal gang and, in some cases, firearms offences.

This was a large-scale fraud which deliberately targeted the benefits system, said judge stone QC.Housing benefit number bolton I regard it as a serious matter that the UK benefits system was targeted from abroad in a sophisticated way.

The town has been transformed by the proceeds of the organised crime ring. Previously rundown areas in tandarei have prospered and gang members have built dozens of new marble-floored mansions and bought luxury cars.

Sentencing dumitru’s wife, ramona, 33, to 20 months’ jail for fraudulent claims including £50,000 in child benefit for six children, the judge highlighted the possibility that the children are the subject of child trafficking and are not your children.

Dorina dumitru, 38, the gang leader’s sister, claimed he used goons to enforce his will, and told social workers she was scared her life might be at risk after admitting he took her to cashpoints to withdraw scammed money. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years after fraudulently obtaining more than £100,000 over five years in tax credits, income support and housing benefit claimed for addresses in liverpool, sefton, newcastle and nottingham.Housing benefit number bolton

Telus dumitru was held responsible by the court for leading the fraud. Police seized a bin bag from under his bed in birmingham which held 41 false home office letters, more than 30 false romanian birth certificates – mostly blank – and false references. The claimants use forged home office documents and job references to get national insurance numbers, which were then used to claim the state handouts.

Detectives say the conviction of dumitru represents the biggest scalp for the british end of a joint metropolitan police and romanian national police anti-trafficking investigation called operation golf, which has cost at least £1m.

We have been seeking to prosecute suspected traffickers for any and all offences, with the aim of disrupting their activities to reduce their ability to traffic and exploit adults and children, a spokeswoman for operation golf said.Housing benefit number bolton police said a few of the 181 children concerned had been safeguarded by social services, but more than 100 were unaccounted for and presumed to no longer be in the UK.

Either the parents are complicit in bringing their children over for exploitation, or they face intimidation and coercion from the gang to send them. Gang members have gone to parents who are facing hard times and promised to find work for their children, and the children are put on british streets.

In evidence of what the judge described as utterly flagrant fraud, claudia radu, 35, dumitru’s sister-in-law, flew back and forth from romania for the sole purpose of making benefit claims worth £15,000. She was stopped by police at stansted airport, having been dropped off by dumitru, and found to have €13,000 and £2,000 in cash, as well as cashpoint receipts detailing withdrawals using her card in tandarei by another member of the gang, dragasun radu, who is among those facing charges in romania.Housing benefit number bolton she was freed, having already served 158 days on remand.

UK government officials were criticised in court for failing to properly scrutinise the forged claims of dumitru’s gang. The address of the home office immigration unit in croydon on faked letters granting leave to remain in the UK was written as corydon and the home office slogan of seeking a safe, just and tolerant society was retyped as tolerante society.

This was clearly a fraud which exploited laxity in the benefit system to some extent, and while sophisticated, not so sophisticated as to be undetectable had rather more care been exercised, said chris hehir for the prosecution.

The court also heard that a british solicitor, whom the judge ordered should not be named, enabled the fraud conducted by dumitru, since the latter was illiterate and spoke almost no english upon his arrival in the UK.Housing benefit number bolton