A Bexhill mother-of-five who hid £650,000 of income from her escort agency and claimed more than £300,000 in state benefits has been jailed today (Friday, November 13).
An investigation led by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), working alongside the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), revealed for more than seven years Janine Adeleke claimed to be unemployed.
But she was actually running Carltons of London, which offered ‘high class’ escort services, providing the ‘finest London escorts to gentlemen of distinction’.
The investigation found Adeleke had not declared any income, stealing more than £312,000 in unpaid income tax, national insurance contributions and tax credits payments.
At the same time she fraudulently claimed over £37,000 in income support and other state benefits, and laundered £157,000 of illicit cash.
Deputy Director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service Richard Las said: “Adeleke claimed to be penniless, but this was far from the truth.
“She didn’t declare her income because she didn’t want to pay tax, but she did want to claim state benefits intended to help those on a low income, which she wasn’t entitled to.
“Adeleke broke the law to fund a lavish lifestyle and private education for her children, stealing money from vital public services designed to support and help struggling families.
“Our work doesn’t stop when a criminal is convicted and we are now working to reclaim the money Adeleke stole.”
Investigators began to look into the 43 year-old’s financial affairs and were shocked to discover she had splashed out at least £120,000 on private schools between November, 2006, and January, 2014, including a school which charges up to £30,000 a year.
They found evidence of lavish spending with tens of thousands of pounds spent on beauty treatments and holidays.
When Adeleke discovered she was being investigated, she began to use her elderly mother’s bank account to hide her income, laundering £157,000 through the account.
DWP Fraud Investigator Santiago Sousa said: “We know that the vast majority of people play by the rules, however this case shows our investigators are cracking down on criminals who defraud the system to make sure they are brought to justice.
“Working while claiming is the most common benefit fraud and we are committed to stopping it.
“Universal credit will simplify and automate the welfare system, reducing fraud by £200m a year when rolled out fully across the country.
“By linking benefit claims with tax, our teams will be able to see almost immediately if a claimant is lying about work to stop fraudulent claims.”
Adeleke pleaded not guilty to money laundering, cheating the public revenue, and tax credits and benefit fraud, but was found guilty on September 29, following a trial at Canterbury Crown Court.
She was sentenced to three years in prison at the same court today.
Confiscation proceedings have started to reclaim the money stolen by Adeleke.
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