Romford benefits cheat with FOUR cars jailed

A BENEFITS cheat who owned four cars was jailed for six months following an investigation by Havering Council.

Scrounger Michael Dowman, 35, of Jutsums Lane, Romford, received the sentence at Basildon Crown Court, last Thursday.

Dowman had sub-let his flat - for which he was claiming benefit - for �550 per month, while living elsewhere.

He pleaded guilty to defrauding Havering Council of �38,974.66 in housing cash over nearly seven years at an earlier hearing.

Investigators uncovered several undeclared bank accounts and a credit check revealed he had an active HSBC account and had received loans of more than �100,000 since March 2003 from various companies.

Income in a Halifax account between June 8 2003 and May 8 2008 alone was �59,960.

The council probe also revealed that Dowman had bought several high value cars while receiving benefits, including a �24,000 BMW convertible, a �21,000 Renault Megane Sport, a �17,000 Land Rover and a Ford Focus.

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He also bought jewellery, booked holidays, shopped in Selfridges of London, hired out function venues and had a gym membership.

Recorder Knott said that due to the size of the overpayment this case had obviously crossed the custody threshold and sent Mr Dowman to prison.

Cllr Roger Ramsey, cabinet member for value, said: “We are delighted that the court has handed down a jail sentence. People who commit benefit fraud are total scroungers.

“While hard-working families were struggling to make ends meet, he was driving around in �20,000 cars bought with money intended for those who have genuinely fallen on hard times. It’s vital we continue to catch these criminals who are stealing hardworking taxpayers’ money.”