Caught red-handed and banged up! Jail for Harrow fraud ringleader

Crown court

A fraudster who was caught stealing more than £100,000 in benefits faces three years in jail after a joint Harrow Council investigation secured his conviction last week.

Sancho Jayaratnam, 58, of Milner Court Bushey, was caught red-handed by Harrow Council, in the act of abusing his position as a benefit assessor to commit multiple acts of fraud. His sophisticated scam created bogus payments from customer claims and siphoned them directly into the bank accounts of his accomplices. One such accomplice, Gabriella Morosan, 28, of Bramshaw Gardens Watford, admitted that she recruited an entire network to launder the stolen money.

Jayaratnam’s claims that he was coerced by a criminal gang were given short shrift by the judge, who dismissed his story as fantasy, and said he must return the cash he stole or face further jail time.

“I’m delighted with the work of our investigators. There's nowhere for fraudsters to hide in Harrow. Sancho Jayaratnam learnt that the hard way”, said Cllr Adam Swersky, Harrow Council’s Cabinet member for Finance and Resources.

“This kind of fraud is one of the lowest forms of crime – it's stealing from taxpayers and from the vulnerable at the same time. Maybe he thought it wasn’t that serious, maybe he thought he’d get away with it – he was wrong.”

Jayaratnam’s prosecution was brought to court following joint action by the Metropolitan Police’s dedicated fraud team, FALCON and Harrow Council’s own anti-fraud investigators. They dedicated hundreds of hours to building a case, which showed Jayaratnam’s attempts to circumvent the authority’s anti-fraud measures.

When investigators swooped in November 2016, incriminating evidence was uncovered in his house and car, including documents belonging to benefit claimants and an ATM receipt showing a cash withdrawal made by Gabriella Morosan.

Nine separate accounts were used for the fraud - in total they received 114 dodgy payments initiated by Jayaratnam between August 2015 and November 2016, totalling £113,628.

Jayaratnam now faces a proceeds of crime investigation to determine a final sum for repayment. As a minimum, he will have to find the full amount he stole, plus costs to the council of £22,000, within six months or face further jail time. He may also be forced to forfeit property.

For her part in the fraud, Morosan, who earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud, received an 18 month suspended sentence¬ and was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.