Former magazine editor admits benefit fraud

The former editor of Asian lifestyle magazine Another Generation, Farah Damji, created a 'web of deceit'as she commited £17,000 benefit fraud, a court was told.

Damji, daughter of Asian property magnate Amir Damji, pleaded guilty last week at Blackfriars Crown Court, to dishonestly making false representations to two separate landlords.

The former contributor to the Observer, New Statesman, and Birmingham Post also admitted three counts of dishonestly making false representations to Hammersmith and Fulham Council on or before October 3, last year.

In addition, she admitted forging a Halifax Bank statement that she presented to letting agents "Lets's Do Business" and falsely claiming the name of an account holder into which benefits were deposited.

Prosecutor Karen Robinson told the court £17,000 in housing and council tax benefit was paid to Damji, while she left one of her landlords out of pocket with £7,685 unpaid rent.

Her lawyer, Nick Wrack, claimed his client was on income support at all times and entitled to housing benefit, but had to invent a new identity to hide her infamous criminal past.

Damji, a mother of two who this month published an autobiography called Try Me, came to public notoriety in 2006 when she used her MySpace website to blog about her absconding from Downview prison in Surrey where she was serving a three and a half year sentence for dishonesty and perverting the course of justice. She returned to custody after absconding for five days.

Judge Aiden Marron, QC, told last week's hearing: 'The prosecution's case is this defendant orchestrated a planned fraud on landlords and then had the audacity to claim public benefits. She is a relatively sophisticated dishonest woman."

Damji was freed on bail to return to court at a later date for sentencing. Confiscation proceedings also will follow after a hearing to determine the extent of her dishonesty.

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