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Brierfield dad and his daughter admit £250,000 scam
A FATHER who used his daughter to carry out a £250,000 legal aid scam has been described as a ‘ruthless serial fraudster’.
Mohammed Khatana, 51 and Mahria Khatana, 24, both of Hawkswood Gardens, Brierfield, were arrested following a three-year investigation by organised crime officers.
Mohammed Khatana pleaded guilty to 15 counts of fraud and Mahria Khatana pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud. He is now facing jail.
It can also now be revealed, following the lifting of court restrictions, that in April Mohammed Khatana was found guilty of attempting to enter into a money laundering arrangement following a seven day trial.
This came after an undercover officer posed as the girlfriend of a drug dealer and met with him where he gave her advice on how to launder drugs money.
He was also convicted of a six-figure fraud in December 2004 relating to a data protection scam. He was jailed for four years and nine months for that offence.
Detective Superintendent Jason Hudson, from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “Khatana was a ruthless serial fraudster who was prepared to use his daughter to steal from a wide range of individuals for his own gain.
“We worked closely with the Legal Services Commission in identifying and stopping Khatana's abuse of the legal aid system.”
The investigation found that Mohammed Khatana was running two companies, POCA Consulting Ltd and Ultima Consulting, that offered legal representation to clients, despite having no legal qualification or accreditation.
Mohammed Khatana would visit with the client and arrange to transfer their legal aid to his firm and would charge up to an additional £500 for the referral.
They were also found guilty of defrauding a 74-year-old man, who was facing confiscation proceedings for money laundering.
Mahria Khatana obtained quotes for legal representation from a barristers firm in London. She then doubled the quotes and sent a £43,000 bill to the man – a fee which should have cost less than £10,000.
Matthew Coats, chief executive of the Legal Services Commission, said: “The LSC worked closely with the police on this case and we are pleased that both accused has pleaded guilty.
“Legal aid funding is public money and we will not tolerate people trying to defraud the taxpayer.
“We are actively engaging with our partners across the public sector to rigorously pursue and combat fraud.”
The pair will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on September 12.
Mahria Khatana was further remanded on bail. Her father was remanded in custody.
Judge Graham Knowles QC told the daughter: “You have pleaded guilty to very serious offences indeed.
“The fact that I am allowing you bail and ordering a pre sentence report is no indication at all of what sentence you will receive.
“Every option including immediate prison is open to the court on the next occasion.”