14 Sep 2010

Somali refugee jailed for benefit fraud

5:45 pm on 14 September 2010

A Somali refugee who fraudulently received more than $100,000 in benefit payments has been jailed for 13 months.

Farhiyo Igal appeared for sentencing on nine charges involving dishonesty in the Wellington District Court on Tuesday.

She received $106,232 in payments.

Last year, Igal was sentenced to five months' home detention and community work after she was convicted of 12 charges involving identity or immigration fraud.

Sentencing her on Tuesday, Judge Ian Mill noted that in both cases Igal said she was trying to help her family in Somalia.

But the judge said the latest offending was different from the earlier case. He says it was Igal's decision to apply for benefits falsely over a nine-year period.

Judge Mill said Igal could have sent the money she earned legally, but instead chose to defraud the community and send that money to her family.

The judge said because most of the money was sent to her family, there is little chance it will be repaid.