Fraudsters jailed for theft from tax payers

The lavish lifestyle of a Kent couple, and the evidence investigators found, bore witness to benefit fraud on a huge scale.

Wiktoria Packowska and her boyfriend, Wojciech Kowalski, created multiple false identities and made more than 80 false claims across a three-year period totalling £700,000.

They were apprehended by Border Force officers in June 2020 at the Chanel Tunnel as they tried to flee the country. Officials found £50,000 cash hidden inside Packowska’s leggings and a further £12,000 inside her handbag.

Both were arrested on suspicion of money laundering and searches of both their homes were carried out. During the searches, investigators from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate described finding a “treasure trove of tools” along with receipts for a luxury hotel, iPhones and sunglasses, as well as designer clothing, bags and jewellery, including a £12,500 Rolex watch. 

The pair have now been jailed for a total of eight years after admitting conspiracy to commit fraud and possessing articles for use in fraud.

They also pled guilty to possessing criminal property in relation to £62,290 in cash found when they were arrested for a second time in August 2021. Their defence was that they had acted under pressure and coercion from others involved in the scam so the financial benefit they received was limited.

During the sentencing, the judge dismissed this claim saying that they had benefited financially to the tune of “tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands”.

He pointed to their purchases of luxury goods including the Rolex watch which pointed to an enterprise from which they had made significant sums of money.

Helen Gregory, Forensic Director at Milsted Langdon, said: “Whilst confiscation proceedings have not yet commenced on this matter, it is key that both the prosecution and the defence consider the facts in this case.  It is not unusual for coercion to be used in wholescale scams so an analysis of the bank accounts will be key to determine how the couple spent the funds received and whether any of it could have paid over to third parties for their cut. 

“The expertise of forensic accountants is vital to make sure that the confiscation is appropriate.”

Sources: Kent Online

Posted in The Forensic Blog.