Zimbabwean jailed for benefits fraud in UK

Shingirai Zvokunzwa from Wroxeter Court, Newstead Rise, in Reading has been sentenced to 10 months in prison after fraudulently claiming 28 000 pounds in benefits.

Zvokunzwa first claimed for housing and council tax benefit in August 2006, when he told the Reading Borough Council that he was living alone and was in receipt of job seekers' allowance.

In 2009 the council received a tip-off that the property Zvokunzwa claimed to be staying at in East Reading was empty and the occupant had in fact moved to Canada. Further enquiries revealed that Zvokunzwa had told his landlord his name was Tevin Mukonda.

Investigations revealed that Zvokunzwa and Mukonda was the same person. Zvokunzwa had changed his name after arriving in the UK from Zimbabwe.

Under the name Tevin Mukonda, Zvokunzwa had received three years of government education grant in addition to the state and housing benefits he had been claiming for.

He had also received a student loan after enrolling as a student at Reading University.

Single students with no disabilities, who receive full-time education, cannot qualify for housing benefit in the majority of cases.

Further information obtained on Zvokunzwa via social networking sites revealed that he had not moved to Canada as he had told his landlord but was living in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

While living in Milton Keynes he made a second claim for state benefit under his pseudonym.

Zvokunzwa was arrested and questioned about the allegations and was charged with six offences of fraud. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 months in prison. He will be instructed to repay the money he fraudulently obtained.

Andrew Cumpsty, leader of Reading Borough Council, said: "The Council takes matters of benefit fraud extremely seriously and will always take action against people who deliberately defraud the system. It is the hard-working silent majority who have to pay for this selfish and greedy behaviour, so it is entirely right these criminals get the full punishment they deserve."- TNS

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