Family convicted over pounds 3m `fraud factory'

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The Independent Online
TEN MEMBERS of a family were convicted yesterday of setting up a "fraud factory" aimed at netting almost pounds 3m in false injury and benefit claims.

The ringleader, Mohammed Sharif, 58, faked six road accidents so family members could make false claims against insurance companies, Preston Crown Court heard.

Two daughters, Yasmin Sarwar, 25, and Parveen Sharif, 30, were each twice recorded as victims of "accidents" in six months involving cars driven by their father. Other family members used false names to pose as independent witnesses.

One of Sharif's sons, Zulfiqar, 28, pretended for 15 years to have been left in a persistent vegetative state after a street attack in a bid to claim a record pounds 1.7m from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.

His fraud was exposed when investigators found a family video showing him lifting weights on a multi-gym, driving a car and running laughing down the street.

Mohammed Sharif, sons Zulfiqar, Arif, 27, and Abid, 23, his daughters Parveen, Yasmin Sarwar and Razia Ahmed, 26, and sons-in-law Abdul Raschid, 22, Mohammed Ramzan, 37, and Sain Ahmed, 43, were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud insurance companies, the Department of Social Security and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.

They were estimated to have been paid pounds 230,000 in false claims, pounds 211,000 of which was transferred to banks in Pakistan the day after their arrests in 1996. The total amount of claims was pounds 2.8m.

The judge, Mrs Justice Steel, remanded Sharif in custody for sentence in May. The others were given bail. The judge warned all of them they faced jail sentences.

"The offence is quite exceptional in the scope and the scale of the blatant dishonesty and cheating which was practised on the various agencies defrauded in this case," she said.