Posts Tagged ‘fraud’

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Term of the week: money mule

May 20, 2015

Money mules are often used to surfeit money or goods on behalf of third parties. The technique is used by a variety of criminals including terrorists, who use the method to transfer money to each other to finance operations. One book defines a money mule as:

A person who transfers money and/or reships valuable, fraudulently-obtained goods. The money mule is often an innocent person who is misled into acting as a go-between in a scam. The instigator is usually a criminal who operates with impunity from another country.

SecurityIntelligence.com reviewed common money mule schemes in an article last fall covering work-from-home, secret shopper, lottery and inheritance schemes:

Money mules are significant in the process of cashing out compromised financial accounts. A money mule is a person who receives and transfers illegally acquired money on behalf of others. Unknowing mules are likely recruited through online job advertisements and spam email. Job titles may include, but are not limited to, “mystery shopper,” “payment processing agent” or “money transfer agent.”

They also may be recruited through romance and lottery scams. Unknowing mules are vulnerable adults who are often older, lonely and potentially financially strapped. Fraudsters will start relationships with these individuals through online dating sites, social networking sites and/or job advertisement sites. The fraudster, acting as a predator, will attempt to cultivate a relationship with the victim based on lies.

Schemes that target unknowing participants are typically focused on employment and relationship scams. At some point, the victims of these schemes (particularly the employment scams) may become knowing, or at least half-suspecting, mules. They realize that they may be part of an illicit scheme but will continue to try to make money because of personal circumstances.

Read the rest of the SecurityIntelligence.com article here.

* Woodward, Jeannette, What Every Librarian Should Know about Electronic Privacy (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2007).

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Covert finance: recommended reading

June 20, 2013
  • Egyptian imam says that zakat is being used to fund fightersmore>>
  • With prepaid cards and fraud, the sky’s the limit… more>>
  • Sick of drug money funding terrorism? Plant science has developed to the point where we could eradicate the coca shrub and opium poppy, if we really wanted to… more>>
  • Sanctions violation:  the president of Panama’s private trading company is shipping 20 containers a month to Iranmore>>
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One Algerian’s financial cyber-crime spree

May 7, 2013

Bank robbery cartoon:

Hacker Hamza Bendelladj’s malware infected personal computers in order to steal the financial credentials of unsuspecting users and sell the data to third parties.  If one man with a computer and an Internet connection can operate a scheme like this, just think of what an enemy state actor could accomplish.

This press release comes to us from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Atlanta Division of the FBI on May 3 (h/t Douglas McNabb):

Algerian National Extradited from Thailand to Face Federal Cyber Crime Charges in Atlanta for SpyEye Virus

ATLANTA—Hamza Bendelladj, an Algerian national also known as Bx1, will be arraigned on federal cyber crime charges for his role in developing, marketing, distributing, and operating the malicious computer virus SpyEye.

“No violence or coercion was used to accomplish this scheme, just a computer and an Internet connection,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Bendelladj’s alleged criminal reach extended across international borders, directly into victims’ homes. In a cyber netherworld, he allegedly commercialized the wholesale theft of financial and personal information through this virus which he sold to other cyber criminals. Cyber criminals, take note—we will find you. This arrest and extradition demonstrates our determination to bring you to justice.”

“Hamza Bendelladj has been extradited to the United States to face charges of controlling and selling a nefarious computer virus designed to pry into computers and extract personal financial information,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman. “The indictment charges Bendelladj and his co-conspirators with operating servers designed to control the personal computers of unsuspecting individuals and aggressively marketing their virus to other international cybercriminals intent on stealing sensitive information. The extradition of Bendelladj to face charges in the United States demonstrates our steadfast determination to bring cyber criminals to justice, no matter where they operate.”

“The FBI has expanded its international partnerships to allow for such extraditions of criminals who know no borders,” stated Mark F. Giuliano, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office. “The federal indictment and extradition of Bendelladj should send a very clear message to those international cyber criminals who feel safe behind their computers in foreign lands that they are, in fact, within reach.”

Bendelladj, 24, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Atlanta, Georgia on December 20, 2011. The 23-count indictment charges him with one count of conspiring to commit wire and bank fraud, 10 counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud, and 11 counts of computer fraud. Bendelladj was apprehended at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, on January 5, 2013, while he was in transit from Malaysia to Egypt. The indictment was unsealed on May 1, 2013. Bendelladj was extradited from Thailand to the United States on May 2, 2013, and was arraigned in United States District Court before United States Magistrate Judge Janet F. King.

According to court documents, the SpyEye virus is malicious computer code, or malware, which is designed to automate the theft of confidential personal and financial information, such as online banking credentials, credit card information, usernames, passwords, PINs, and other personally identifying information. The SpyEye virus facilitates this theft of information by secretly infecting victims’ computers, enabling cyber criminals to remotely control the computers through command and control (C&C) servers. Once a computer is infected and under the cyber criminals’ control, a victim’s personal and financial information can be surreptitiously collected using techniques such as “web injects,” which allow cyber criminals to alter the display of webpages in the victim’s browser in order to trick them into divulging personal information related to their financial accounts. The financial data is then transmitted to the cyber criminals’ C&C servers, where criminals use it to steal money from the victims’ financial accounts.

The indictment alleges that from 2009 to 2011, Bendelladj and others developed, marketed, and sold various versions of the SpyEye virus and component parts on the Internet and allowed cyber criminals to customize their purchases to include tailor-made methods of obtaining victims’ personal and financial information. Bendelladj allegedly advertised the SpyEye virus on Internet forums devoted to cyber crime and other criminal activities. In addition, Bendelladj allegedly operated C&C servers, including a server located in the Northern District of Georgia, which controlled computers infected with the SpyEye virus. One of the files on Bendelladj’s C&C server in the Northern District of Georgia allegedly contained information from approximately 253 unique financial institutions.

If convicted, Bendelladj faces a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud; up to 20 years for each wire fraud count; up to five years for conspiracy to commit computer fraud; up to five or 10 years for each count of computer fraud; and fines of up to $14 million…

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Money scheme: Russian mafia conducts tutorials on how to commit car insurance fraud in U.S.

May 6, 2013

“People would be very shocked to know who is involved,” with the growing number of fraudulent claims, says an insurance industry expert.  Indeed.  From WCCO, the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis, earlier this year:

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Mark Kulda of the Insurance Federation of Minnesota says anyone involved in even a slight car accident could be at risk for insurance fraud.

“You might be driving down the street and maybe have a very minor accident and that could trigger a case where there could be insurance fraud,” Kulda said. “People would be very shocked to know who is involved.”

Organized crime involved in insurance fraud has gone up from 16 claims five years ago to 53 in 2011.

“There’s evidence that the Russian mafia is here in south Minneapolis setting up fake clinics, staging fake accidents, overbilling, billing for accidents that never happened,” he said.

The criminals cash in by making out on staged collisions and fake personal injury claims – getting as much as $40,000 per person.

“There’s direct evidence to show that those fraudsters are coming here to Minn. and setting up shop,” he said…

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Video: examples of car insurance fraud

May 4, 2013

Staged accidents.  The “swoop & squat.”  Fake “paper cases.”  It’s a growth sector and revenue generator for organized crime.  You pay the price in increased premiums.  From KSAT in San Antonio earlier this year:

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Muslim crime syndicate sues accuser for $30m

April 27, 2013

Christian organization targeted in frivolous libel lawsuit by jihadist front group

Jamaat al-Fuqra, an Islamist network operating in North America and Pakistan, has maintained a presence in the U.S. for decades through a commune-style sect known as The Muslims of America, Inc. and a shell company called Professional Security International.  These entities have perpetrated a series of white collar crimes, especially workers compensation fraud, to finance terrorist activities overseas.

The Virginia-based Christian Action Network’s recent publication of a book documenting the history of investigations and successful prosecutions against employees of the syndicate prompted the lawsuit.  CAN reports that Susan Fenger, a fraud examiner who  spearheaded the investigations into MOA in the 1990s, has agreed to testify in CAN’s behalf if the defamation and libel suit goes to trial.

From CAN’s Press Room on Apr. 15:

Muslim Terrorist Group Files $30 Million Lawsuit Against Christian Action Network

By Patti Pierucci

A Muslim terrorist group has filed a lawsuit against Christian Action Network seeking $30 million, following the publication of a book by CAN President Martin Mawyer entitled “Twilight in America.” The suit alleges that Mawyer, co-author Patti A. Pierucci and CAN defamed and libeled the group by publishing information about their crimes and ongoing illegal behavior.

The group, known as The Muslims of America, Inc. (MOA), has operated as a front group for Al Fuqra, which was at one time listed as a terrorist group by the State Department. Al Fuqra members have been convicted of and suspected in dozens of terrorist-related and white-collar crimes in the United States going back decades.

Forensics investigator Susan Fenger—who successfully prosecuted an American Muslim group in the 1990s on charges of terrorism and white-collar crime—has agreed to testify on behalf of Christian Action Network in a lawsuit filed by the same Muslim organization.

In an exclusive interview with Mawyer in 2006, Fenger said she had a $50,000 bounty on her head, placed there by the leader of MOA in Pakistan, Sheikh Mubarik Ali Gilani. The bounty was a form of payback from Gilani because he had to finance the defense of numerous MOA/Fuqra members who were prosecuted as a result of Fenger’s investigation.

Despite the threat to her and the price on her life, she has agreed to testify at the upcoming trial on behalf of CAN to help clear them of any charges.

“Susan Fenger spent years investigating The Muslims of America and its money trail, eventually proving that money scammed from taxpayers was going overseas to fund a known terrorist, Sheikh Gilani,” Mawyer said. “She is a hero because of her relentless pursuit of justice when no one else, not even the FBI, were willing to take on a powerful Muslim group with terrorist ties.”

Mawyer added: “There is such an abundance of official documentation of MOA’s involvement in terrorist activities that I am confident we will prevail in this lawsuit.”

Fenger’s investigation proved without doubt that MOA was a front group for Al Fuqra, and that its members were involved in a myriad of illegal activities. Over the years, members have been convicted of or linked to worker’s compensation fraud, murders, fire-bombing, drug crimes, weapons crimes, and more.

In a January 2013 article posted on MOA’s web site, they admitted that a former member of their group “was secretly the head of the hit team of Ikhwanul Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood)” and that former members “were involved in street crimes, drugs, brothels, unemployment fraud, and other offenses.” They claim, however, that they did not know any illegal activity was going on.

1990s Prosecutions

In early 1990, the FBI approached Susan Fenger with a request. Fenger was the chief criminal examiner for the Colorado State Department of Labor and Employment at the time. She was a forensics expert in handwriting, and she knew how to track financial fraud. The FBI agent walked into her office in Denver and handed her a paper with some names on it. They suspected worker’s compensation fraud.

All of the names presented by the FBI were names of Al Fuqra members, said Fenger. “The agent … told my director at the agency that these people were allegedly terrorists.”

The then-governor of Colorado, Roy Romer, was furious.  He appointed Fenger as chief investigator and insisted that she pursue the case above all others.

It was Fenger who put the case together. She was able to prove that Al Fuqra members had been committing white-collar crimes for a decade, most of them involving worker’s compensation fraud in Colorado, in order to fund their terrorist-related activities. The final charges brought, and subsequent convictions, would fall under the heading of racketeering and white-collar crime.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Backroom deal suspected as Turkish agent buys foreclosed Gulen school property

April 6, 2013

In 2012, the Atlanta-area Fulton Science Academy (FSA) borrowed $19 million to buy land to expand their campus.  FSA quickly defaulted, and Wells Fargo sued them.  On Feb. 5, the land was sold at a foreclosure auction for $3.2 million according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Foreclosure auction of Fulton Science Academy property

The winning bidder?  A recently incorporated company called “TruGlobe,” with three Turkish officers, who were somehow able to come up with over $3 million on the day of the foreclosure sale, at which cash or cashier’s checks are normally required as immediate payment.

Both the Fulton Science Academy and TruGlobe have addresses in Alpharetta, Georgia.  The similarities between the entities indicate probable collusion between the Gulen charter school and the winning bidder prior to the sale.  It is worth noting that bid rigging at foreclosure auctions is a growth area for criminal activity.

The website Roots in Alpharetta was the first to expose the “amazing coincidence” of the buyer’s Turkish identity:

Did a Fulton Science Academy benefactor purchase their land?

February 6, 2013

Has a Fulton Science Academy benefactor swooped in to save the embattled school’s construction project? Perhaps.

FSA’s stalled construction project off Westside Parkway was sold in a foreclosure auction this past Tuesday. WSBtv reported this week via twitter that a firm by the name of TruGlobe Inc purchased the land on the courthouse steps for $3.2 million.

TruGlobe is based here in Alpharetta, according to records at the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. Principals with the company appear to be of Turkish descent and have ties to the Turkish American Chamber of Commerce.

Or it could all be an amazing coincidence. This blogger bets that the FSA will pursue a new state charter and attempt to revive their plans for new campus.

Indeed, the registered agent and chief financial officer of TruGlobe is listed as Ahmed Vehbi Ugur, a young man who describes himself as a board member of the Turkish American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast.  Ugur is also registered as the CEO of the Maress Corporation, a Turkish kitchen appliance business with an Atlanta office.

The Fulton Science Academy belongs to a network of troublesome charter schools under the direction of Fethullah Gulen, an activist who seeks to replace the formally secular government in Turkey with a sharia-dominated Islamic caliphate.  Gulen schools have undertaken an influence peddling and crony contract scheme in Texas, improper financial activities in Georgia, were denied a charter in Virginia, and are currently under an FBI investigation for kickbacks.

Fulton County itself has recommended early revocation of FSA’s charter due to educational and financial shortcomings.  The State Board of Education of Georgia may consider such a suspension when it meets this month.

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UPDATE—April 8, 2013:  A colleague has noted that the Turkish parties in this case appear to have acquired a $19 million property for a fire sale price of $3 million, short-changing Wells Fargo and the Development Authority of Alpharetta by $16 million in the process.

Technically, the full $19 million debt owed by Fulton Science Academy has not been extinguished by the foreclosure sale to TruGlobe.  Wells Fargo could have pursued a confirmation of deficiency proceeding against FSA for the $16 million still owed.  However, Read the rest of this entry ?

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Health care fraudsters sent $1.1 million to Iran

March 26, 2013
http://www.yourvalleyvoice.com/news/article_0cc20972-ab7c-11e1-8872-001a4bcf887a.html?mode=image&photo=0

Hossein Lahiji, Co-defendant

Hossein and Najmeh Lahiji, a naturalized U.S. citizen and his wife, have been indicted for medical billing fraud in Texas, and for sending the illicit proceeds to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.  Dr. Lahiji even accepted payments for medical treatment he claimed to perform in Texas while he was actually in Tehran.

The Lahijis funneled the dirty money through Espadana Exchange, an “unlicensed money remitting business”—ie, hawala business.  Iran sanctions expert and D.C. attorney Erich Ferrari has previously advised Iranian-Americans to “Just Say No” to engaging in hawala, also called havaleh, transactions destined for Iran.  Evidently, the Lahijis didn’t take his advice.

The couple’s trial was scheduled to begin yesterday.  The U.S. attorney’s office has these details:

McAllen Urologist and Wife Charged in Heath Care Fraud Scheme and Conspiracy to Violate Iranian Sanctions

HOUSTON – A federal grand jury has returned a four-count, superseding indictment against urologist Hossein Lahiji M.D. and his wife, attorney Najmeh Vahid Lahiji, both of McAllen and San Antonio, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The second superseding Indictment, returned late yesterday, charges the couple with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud and for conspiring to violate Iranian sanctions.

The Lahijis are set to appear in Houston tomorrow morning at 9:45 before U.S. District Judge Mary Milloy.

This indictment alleges the Lahijis conspired to violate Iranian Sanctions by transferring approximately $1.1 million to Iran. The Lahijis allegedly utilized an unlicensed money remitting business called the Espadana Exchange to avoid the United States banking regulations and to allegedly make it appear they were not violating the United States embargo with Iran. The indictment alleges the defendants sent some of the monies representing profits of their alleged illegal health care fraud scheme to Iran for the purpose of making an investment on behalf of Hossein Lahiji and Najmeh Vahid Lahiji in real estate rental property in Iran, all in violation of the Iranian sanctions.

“The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will tenaciously pursue individuals who violate international emergency economic powers statutes,” said IRS-Criminal Investigation (CI) Special Agent in Charge Lucy Cruz. “IRS-CI’s unique skill set is to unravel the often concealed complex networks used to disguise international financial crimes.”

The health care fraud scheme alleged in this indictment accuses Hossein and Najmeh Lahiji of conspiring to defraud multiple health care benefit programs by submitting false and fraudulent claims in connection with the use of unlicensed and unqualified medical personal and for billing for medical services not rendered. Read the rest of this entry ?

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130 requests for zakat, and counting

November 20, 2012

Money Jihad has just added a new page to the website cataloging about 45 previously unpublished requests we’ve received from Muslims around the world asking us to give them money through zakat donations.

Some of the requests claim to be for personal reasons—such as helping somebody with their education or helping them get out of debt—but some have a broader Islamic agenda such as “helping us to raise Muslim power” or “making Islam gain ground.”  Most of the messages don’t request a specific amount.  The smallest amount sought is $200; the largest request hints at $1 million.

Take a look!  Some of them, like one requesting help with “skull fees,” are unintentionally humorous.

There are about 85 separate requests on this old post, too, including a comment that “-Jihad -zakaat, I hope it will go a long way in achieving all predetermined goals.”

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Cabbie borrows millions with false identity

November 15, 2012

And evades 21.7 million in taxes afterwards!

What’s perplexing about this is that this Muslim cab driving con artist, Mohammed Aslam, was able to obtain millions in loans from banks.  Modern know-your-customer regulations on financial institutions are designed to prevent just such an occurrence.

Aslam apparently used a false identity, and this imposter was clever enough to fool the banks about who he really was.  But did he also present forged or counterfeit documents that proved he had adequate collateral to qualify for such generous loans?  Money Jihad is not convinced that the bank did its due diligence with this customer.

From Tundra Tabloids on Nov. 3:

MUSLIM TAXI CAB SCAMMER GETS CHARGED FOR TAX EVASION IN OSLO……..

“Little Røkke to court again

A new giant-charge against taxi scammer Mohammed Aslam is ready. He allegedly used a false identity to obtain loans from the bank.

– Overall, he has held around 100 million outside the accounts, says police attorney Ragnvald Brekke Aftenposten.no

Mohammed Aslam was nicknamed “Little Røkke” in Oslo cab environment because he always had large sums of cash in his pocket when he operated his fleet of taxis in the city until the fall of 2007.

For the time zones he sentenced to two years in prison Kongsvinger.

Lawsuit in the New Year

Aslam was convicted in 2007 for black cab driving, insurance fraud, money smuggling and illegal storage of weapons, but he fled to Pakistan before judgment fell. After over four years on the run, he was arrested and extradited to Norway.

But Aslam has more pigs in the forest, and prosecutors have not finished cab scammer.

In the beginning Aslam must appear in court again, charged with even more cases of tax and tax evasion.

He is charged with:

  • Having failed to provide payroll and tax deducted for their drivers for a total of 21.7 million in the period 2003-2005.
  • Having evaded 1.63 million kroner in VAT in the years 2005-2007. He also led deduction of tax he paid, according to the indictment.
  • In addition, he may have used a false identity to get loans bank.

Recall that prominent Muslims such as Anwar al-Awlaki and Anjem Choudary have said that it is legitimate under Islamic law for Muslims living in the West to mooch, scam, and steal from their infidel hosts.

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Benefit fraud okay under Islamic law

October 19, 2012

Here’s yet another Muslim living in the West who believes that is acceptable under Islam to commit welfare fraud against a non-Muslim country while living there.  Anjem Choudary and Anwar al-Awlaki have expressed the same point of view for which there is some support in Islamic texts.

From the Daily Mail on Oct. 11 via The Muslim Issue:

Iraqi immigrant, 62, claimed £35,000 in benefits despite having thousands in hidden bank account ‘because he was doing nothing wrong under Islamic law’

  • Majid Hussain was paid income support, housing and council tax benefits
  • At the same time he had £18,000 rising to £36,000 in secret bank account
  • He said money was left in trust by father for his children’s education and he had sworn oath on Koran he would preserve money

By Larisa Brown

An Iraqi immigrant accused of fiddling more than £35,000 in benefits claims he did nothing wrong because he was acting under the rule of Islamic law.

Majid Hussain, who has not worked since arriving in Britain as a mature student in 1986, was paid income support, housing and council tax benefits for 13 years – and signed an annual assurance that he did not have any undeclared bank accounts.

But in fact during that time he had a secret bank account, containing a sum that rose from £18,000 to £36,000.

Majid Hussain, who has not worked since arriving in Britain to study at Exeter University, pictured, in 1986, ‘fiddled more than £35,000 in benefits’ over 13 years

Hussain said the money was left in a trust by his father for his children’s education.

He said he had a duty under Islamic law and his own culture to honour an oath to his late father to preserve the money for the education of his four children, aged between nine and 18.

Therefore, he said, the money was in no way his.

Hussain’s income support was cut off after the account was discovered in 2010 but he is still claiming disability living allowance because he suffers from Crohn’s Disease, kidney problems and muscle pain.

Hussain, of Exeter, Devon, denies three counts of dishonestly claiming a total of more than £35,000 between 1997 and 2010 in the case at Exeter Crown Court.

Mr Malcolm Galloway, prosecuting, said it was agreed by both sides that Hussain claimed the money at a time when he had a RBS account with between £18,000 and £36,000 in it.

The jury were handed a folder of forms, all signed by Hussain, in which he declared that neither he or any of his children had savings or bank accounts which could affect the claims for the means-tested benefits.

He said Hussain told investigators the money in the account was saved from his scholarship money when the Iraqi government was paying for him to study at Exeter University from 1986 to 1996.

He later filed a defence in which he said it came from his late father and was held in trust.

It read: ‘He did not notify the DWP of some of the money under his control because it was left to him on strict Islamic terms by a relative for the sole use of his children.

‘In accordance with Islamic belief and law there was no possibility or option for it ever to be used for his own use and as such there was no intention to deceive.’

Hussain told the jury at Exeter Crown Court, pictured, his father gave him the money for the education of his grandchildren

Mr Galloway said: ‘This case is not about religion or culture. It is to do with honesty and dishonesty. He is not a man who likes to give a straight answer. He goes round and round looking for excuses.’

He pointed out that within weeks of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) discovering the account, Hussain withdrew around £15,000, apparently for his own use.

Hussain told the jury his father gave him the money for the education of his grandchildren when he came to Britain in 1986 even though at the time he was not married and did not have any children.

He said his father anticipated him starting a family and made him promise to use it to send any children to university.

Hussain said he later married a British wife in 1991 and had four children.

His father died in 1997. He started claiming benefits in the same year after he graduated from Exeter University and was unable to work because of illness.

He told the jury: ‘I promised him on the Koran. I read the Koran and you have a duty to obey your parents. It is part of Islamic culture and tribal culture.

‘Allah commands you to render back your trust to those to whom they are due and not to break your oath. I had to carry out this agreement in the name of God.

‘This money was not mine. It was from my father to my children for when they go to university. It was not my money and it did not cross my mind when I signed the forms.

‘I was not acting dishonestly. It was not my money at all. I never thought about the money in my account. This is my belief and my faith.’

When asked why he had withdrawn money once it was found by the DWP he said: ‘They stopped my benefit. They withdrew their duty of care. I did not want to see my children struggling or losing their home. I am a responsible father.’

The case continues.